Fiscal Year 2018 Deliberations Proceed

June 21st, 2017

Since the Administration released its proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget last month, Congress has been considering how it can complete the FY 2018 appropriations process before the new fiscal year begins on October 1.

Under normal circumstances, the president’s detailed budget would have been released in February, giving Congress more time to not only consider the president’s proposal, but also to prepare a budget resolution—a step Congress conducts to determine overall spending allocations to the 12 appropriations subcommittees that fund the federal government. Without this budget “blueprint,” the appropriations subcommittees do not explicitly know how much funding they will have to devote to their agencies of jurisdiction. Absent a budget resolution, the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees rely on the previous year’s allocation and the broad overall non-defense and defense spending caps established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 to guide their deliberations.

In the Senate, leaders are urging the Appropriations Committee to start drafting their subcommittee bills at the FY 2018 spending levels set by the Budget Control Act—levels that are lower than the FY 2017 budget caps. Writing bills at these levels will mean less money for non-defense spending overall—the category that funds agencies important to FABBS, including the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and Department of Education.

It is possible for Congress to pass legislation adjusting the existing budget caps, as it has done previously, but doing so would require support from the White House as well. At this time, Congress and the Administration are not actively negotiating a plan to raise the caps. As members of the NDD United coalition, FABBS will continue to work with other organizations to advocate for increasing the overall non-defense discretionary spending caps.

All the delays in the budget and appropriations processes make it increasingly likely that a continuing resolution will be necessary to keep the government operating when FY 2018 begins. Congress is considering several options for expediting passage of the FY 2018 appropriations bills, including drafting and passing a comprehensive omnibus spending measure in the House of Representatives before Congress breaks for its annual August recess. The Senate, however, has not responded positively to such a strategy, diminishing its chances of success.

While Congress considers its options, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are holding numerous hearings to gather information from the federal agencies that they will use to inform their proposed funding levels. The Appropriations subcommittees may begin drafting or “marking up” their bills as early as the second week of July. FABBS representatives have been participating in meetings with key appropriations staff since the beginning of the year to communicate our coalition’s support for investments in federal scientific and statistical agencies. FABBS will continue to engage Congress as the FY 2018 appropriations process unfolds.