What’s in the federal omnibus spending bill?

Last week, Congress passed the 2018 budget that provides discretionary spending for the government until September 30, 2018. It took five continuing resolutions and several hours of shutdowns here and there, but we now officially have a FY18 budget.

The $1.3 trillion spending bill funds discretionary spending programs throughout the federal government, including funding for many nonprofits rely on for program delivery.

As a brief look-back in time, it was May of last year when the administration came out with budget proposals that would have been devastating to nonprofits and the communities they partner with every day. Thousands of nonprofits across the country stood up, met with federal policy makers, and asked for a budget that instead invests in strong, vibrant communities. We were thrilled to see that the proposed cuts were rejected.

Here are a few key highlights of what’s in the bill:

  • Johnson Amendment left unharmed, for now: Thanks to strong voices of charitable nonprofits, religious organizations, and foundations from all 50 states, the final bill did not include the rider that would have dismantled the Johnson Amendment that for 60 years has ensured that nonprofits can focus on their missions instead of partisan politics. This rider was in the bill until pretty close to the end, so we will need to continue to speak up on this as we enter discussions over the FY19 budget.
  • AmeriCorps/VISTA programs: The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) received about a 5 percent increase over last year. This was up for elimination in the administration’s budget proposals for FY18 (and proposed for elimination again for the FY19 budget proposal.)
  • Arts, Culture, and Community Engagement: The legislation funds the National Endowments for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities at $153 million each, $3 million more than last year. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is funded at the same level.
  • Census 2020: The Census is only about 730 days away at this point, so it was critical that additional funds be allocated to help prepare for the 2020 count. At the end of the day, the bill provides a $1.34 billion increase for the Census Bureau. This amount is double what the President requested. However, with the citizenship question added, it’s going to be essential that nonprofits speak up and push back against the inclusion of this question.
  • Education: The bill provides $350 million for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program that benefits employees of nonprofits and governments.
  • Food and Nutrition: Here’s one area where we saw some cuts. The bill appropriated $6.175 billion in discretionary funding for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, which is $175 million below the fiscal year 2017 level. It would provide an additional $1.5 billion for the child nutrition programs, including $564 million for the Summer Food Service Program. The legislation would provide $74 billion in required mandatory spending for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), $4.5 billion below last year’s level.
  • Immigration not addressed: The final bill failed to include any immigration provisions, including any solution to DACA. The bill does include only $1.6 billion for border security, but doesn’t authorize spending for significant wall construction.

 

Each year, Congress must pass their annual appropriations by October 1, the start of the federal government’s fiscal year. So at this point, we’re well into planning for the FY10 appropriations. The budget request from the administration again called for massive cuts to key programs that support nonprofits and communities. As the winding path of the budgeting process moves forward throughout the summer, please make sure you are in contact with your members of congress about your mission and values and the important partnership with government.

If you have any questions about the federal budget and how it will impact your nonprofit and the communities you partner with every day, please feel free to reach out to Rebecca Lucero, public policy director, at rlucero@minnesotanonprofits.org.

 
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