Budget & Appropriations (2018 Offering of Letters)
- Last week, Congress passed and the president signed the fiscal year 2018 omnibus spending bill. The bipartisan bill largely maintained U.S. foreign aid and domestic safety-net funding at fiscal year 2017 levels.
- The omnibus passed the House by a 256-167 vote. The Senate passed the measure by a vote of 65-32.
- The bill fully funds the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) at $6.2 billion and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) at $238 million, $2 million more than fiscal year 2017, and enough to provide food boxes for more than 725,000 low-income seniors.
- Summer EBT demonstration projects received $28 million, a $5 million increase over fiscal year 2017, to allow for expansion in more states. The demonstration projects have reduced the most severe forms of child food insecurity by up to one-third.
- The bill also includes the largest ever single year increase in federal funding for the Child Care and Development Block grant. The increase will provide resources for more than 151,000 additional children to gain child care assistance.
- Overall, the bill provides $54 billion for state and foreign operations, which is $3.4 billion, or about 6 percent, below the fiscal year 2017 levels. However, the bulk of these cuts come in part from a reduction in supplemental funds provided last year to specific counter-ISIS operations.
- Food for Peace is funded at $1.7 billion, which is up from about $1.46 billion in fiscal year 2017. McGovern-Dole is funded at $207 million, up $5 million from fiscal year 2017. The additional $5 million is for Local and Regional Procurement (LRP), for a total of $10 million for fiscal year 2018. Bread for the World has advocated for increased funding for LRP through the farm bill and spending bills for several years.
- There was no deal for DACA recipients or Dreamers in the omnibus deal. However, the omnibus bill does include $1.6 billion for replacement fencing and barriers along the southern border.
- Bipartisan farm bill negotiations in the House have stalled. House Agriculture Committee Chair Mike Conaway (R-Texas-11) has indicated he plans to move forward with a bill in committee in April, with or without Democratic support. Bread continues to push back against harmful SNAP provisions and is working with the committee on food aid reform language.
- The Senate is reportedly continuing to work on a farm bill. They have publicly said they would still like to mark-up a bill this spring.
- Last week, the president and congressional leadership attempted to negotiate a permanent plan for DACA recipients as part of the omnibus deal.
- However, a deal was never struck because the Trump administration is opposed to a pathway to citizenship.
- With the passage of the fiscal year 2018 budget (the last must-pass bill of the year), we are now unlikely to see any legislative action on immigration, including protections for Dreamers, until after the 2018 midterm elections.
The president’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposal includes deep cuts — $1.5 trillion in cuts — to programs that help people struggling with hunger and poverty. These cuts are unacceptable. Call (800-826-3688) or email your members of Congress and urge them to invest in and protect key programs that will help reduce hunger and poverty.