Bickering Derails Budget Process, Stopgap Spending Measure Looks Unavoidable

Partisan bickering in Congress has dashed whatever high hopes may have existed earlier this year of completing the FY 2015 budget on time, and now lawmakers will likely approve another stopgap funding bill to extend government operations beyond the Sept. 30 deadline.

Before they left for the summer break, lawmakers in the House passed seven of the 12 required FY 2015 appropriations bills. The Senate has passed eight bills out of committee, but none have been brought to the floor for a vote due in part to the possibility of contentious amendments and an ongoing battle between Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

With August recess and the upcoming mid-term elections, Congress will have to pass a continuing resolution to serve as a stopgap spending measure. The resolution will allow Congress to avoid a government shutdown when the new fiscal year begins Oct.1.

Timing Not Clear

While the exact timeline for the continuing resolution is unclear, it is expected to pass Congress in September and fund the government into November or December. In most cases, a CR maintains current levels of funding, sometimes with a few exceptions for specific programs. This postpones choices about the best use of the limited funds available.

However, child welfare and youth organizations that receive federal funding cannot plan for the rest of the year when they are stuck for two or three months or more at current levels. Differences between the House and Senate make it uncertain whether specific programs will gain, lose, or stay the same once a permanent funding bill passes Congress. The lack of clarity is especially true for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, because neither the House nor the Senate have moved the appropriations bills for these programs through their respective appropriations committees.

In its initial allocation, the Senate provided the same amount for Labor-HHS-Education for FY 2015 as is available in FY 2014 ($156.77 billion). The House had cut the total for these programs by nearly $1.1 billion, to $155.69 billion. While the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee struggled to provide adequate funding for priorities like early childhood and special education and substance abuse/mental health services, other programs did not fare as well.

There were 35 programs with stagnant FY 2014 funding levels, including Child Welfare Services, the Community Services Block Grant, IDEA (special education) Preschool Grants, and Migrant Student Education. With capped spending levels (as a result of the Ryan-Murray budget agreement), increases for some programs means decreases for others. There were 31 programs that saw decreases to already meager levels, including Mental Health Programs of Regional and National Significance with a $7.7 million (2%) cut and a $34.2 million (1%) cut in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Funding for child/youth programs has been down the last four years (see chart below).


But, there were also some winners in the Senate committee bill. The subcommittee provided a $98 million (4.2%) increase in the Child Care and Development Block Grant, a $20 million (4.3%) increase for the Mental Health Block Grant, a $75 million (4.3%) increase for the Substance Abuse Treatment Block Grant, and a $1.082 billion (9.4%) increase in special education (IDEA Part B Grants to States).

Outlook: During the lame-duck session that follows the November elections, Congress may attempt to combine all of the 12 appropriations bills into an omnibus bill, or combine several of the bills into a number of smaller ‘minibus’ bills, to cover the rest of FY 2015. This allows the lawmakers to debate and pass multiple appropriations measures at the same time. But if the makeup of Congress changes significantly as a result of the mid-term elections, it’s possible no agreements will be reached as final appropriations decisions are put off until after the new Congress arrives in January.


Select Children and Youth Program Funding Levels: 2010 to 2014

(Funding Numbers in $Millions)

FY 2010 FY 2014 $ Change: ’10 to’14
Maternal & Child Health Block Grant $662 634 -84
Healthy Start 105 101 -12.9
Ryan White AIDS Program- Total 2,312.2 2,318.8 -189
Universal Newborn Hearing 19 17.9 -2.7
Emergency Medical Services for Children 21.5 20.2 -3.1
Children’s Mental Health 121.3 117.3 -14.2
Child Welfare Services 281.7 268.7 -36.8
Child Welfare Training, Demo Projects 27 25 -4.3
CAPTA Child Protective Services State Grants 28.5 25.3 -5.6
CAPTA Child Abuse Discretionary Grants 29 28.7 -2.7
CAPTA Community Grants for Protection 41.7 39.8 -5.5
Adoption Opportunities 26.4 40.6 12.0
Children’s Health Act Adoption Programs 13 0 -14.1
Adoption Incentive Grants 39.5 37.9 -4.9
Teen Pregnancy Prevention Discretionary Grants 110 101 -18.3
Promoting Safe and Stable Families 63 59.8 -8.6
Consolidated Runaway, Homeless Youth 98 97 -9.3
Grants to Reduce Abuse of Runaway Youth 18 17.1 -2.4
Abandoned Infants Assistance 12 11.1 -2
Community Services Block Grant 700 668 -91.2
Low Income Energy Assistance 5,100 3,424.5 -2,106.9
WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition/Women, Infants and Children) 7,252 6,715.8 -1,149.7
Title II State Formula Grants 75 55 -26.3
Title V Local Delinquency Prevention 65 15 -55.5
Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG) 55 0 -59.7
Mentoring Programs 100 88.5 -20
Community Based Violence Prevention Initiatives 10 5.5 -5.3
Second Chance Act 100 67.8 -40.7
Head Start 7,233.7 8,598.1 752.4
Child Care & Development Block Grant (CCDBG) 2,127.1 2,360 52.9
Race to the Top (R2T) 0 250 250
Even Start 66 0 -71.6
Effective Teaching and Learning: Literacy (includes formerly separate Striving Readers) 0.0 183.7 183.7
Effective Teaching and Learning: STEM 180.5 149.7 -46.1
Effective Teaching & Learning for a Well-Rounded Ed. 226.1 25 -220.2
IDEA Part B Grants to States 11,505.2 11,472.8 -1,005.7
IDEA, Preschool Grants 374.1 353.2 -52.5
Successful, Safe and Healthy Students 365.0 214.1 -181.8
Education for Homeless Children and Youth 65.4 65 -5.9
Effective Teachers and Leaders State Grants 2,947.7 2,349.8 -847.2
Investing in Innovation 0 141.6 141.6
School Turn-Around Grants 545.6 505.8 -86
21st Century Community Learning Centers 1,166.2 1,149.4 -115.5
English Learner Education 750 723.4 -90.1
Neglected and Delinquent Youth- state program 50.4 47.6 -7
Migrant Student Education 394.8 374.8 -53.4
Special Programs for Migrant Students (HS, college) 36.7 34.6 -5.2
High School Graduation Initiative 50 46.3 -8
Promise Neighborhoods 10 56.8 45.9

About Frank Klimko

Frank Klimko is a nationally known journalist, grants expert and speech writer/speaker. He has years of experience helping nonprofits devise lists of the right funding opportunities and secure funding from these foundations and corporate entities. Clients have focused on an array of areas including child care, homeless, hunger and K-12 education. Additionally, he is a Freedom of Information Act expert, who has helped numerous clients with securing proprietary information from the federal government. Currently, Frank Klimko writes the Children & Youth Funding Report and Private Grants Alert, which are Washington DC-based publications. CYF is a daily publication covering Congress, the Education Dept. and the various federal regulatory agencies. PGA, another daily publication, covers the world of private philanthropy.
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