The Trump Administration released its FY 2018 Budget, A New Foundation for American Greatness, at 11am Eastern Time today. The budget calls for a funding level of $6.15 billion for WIC in FY 2018 coupled with a $1.0 billion rescission of unspent funds, leaving WIC with a net funding level of $5.15 billion in FY 2018.* While this funding level is significantly less than FY 2016 and 2017, we expect that it will be sufficient to meet projected caseload needs in FY 2018. This is largely because average monthly food costs are relatively flat, food cost inflation is low, cost containment strategies have helped reduce program costs, rebates are among their highest levels, and WIC participation continues to lag.
The budget also provides $60 million for breastfeeding peer counselors and $13.6 million for infrastructure.
While WIC funding may prove adequate, the President’s FY 2018 budget, if enacted, and taken as a whole, would have significant adverse impacts on WIC families. The administration proposes to cut $1.4 trillion over 10 years from discretionary spending, including damaging cuts to funding for nutrition and healthcare, housing assistance, drug and alcohol abuse prevention, disability support, education, and medical research. The proposed deep cuts to SNAP of $192 billion, Medicaid of over $800 billion, and other programs for low-income families slashed by $272 billion could undermine WIC’s effectiveness as a supplement to other income and benefits programs. WIC’s benefits and services would be seriously undermined by these cuts and could not begin to compensate for the dire consequences and level of privation that WIC families would experience were the President’s budget adopted.
Fortunately, the budget is expected to face significant opposition from both moderate Republicans and all Democrats who believe that the discretionary cuts are far too large and would disproportionately harm the poor and vulnerable. It is now up to members of the Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate to decide how to fund government programs in FY 2018. Many Appropriators have said that they will not heed the President’s budgetary requests.
We will keep you updated on the Appropriations process and the implications for WIC funding in FY 2018.
*The President’s proposed FY 2018 funding level was based on an assumption that FY 2017 funding would be at the continuing resolution (CR) level rather than the level provided in the FY 2017 consolidated appropriations law (“Omnibus”) now in place. The upshot? A required technical correction to reflect the FY 2017 Omnibus. This should nevertheless leave the proposal adequate to meet caseload needs.