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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|Community Based Violence Prevention Initiatives||10||5.5||-5.3|
|Second Chance Act||100||67.8||-40.7|
|Child Care & Development Block Grant (CCDBG)||2,127.1||2,360||52.9|
|Race to the Top (R2T)||0||250||250|
|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|