FY 2018 Budget and Appropriations Update
Lawmakers return to Capitol Hill today after their one-week July 4th recess.
House Republicans will be working this week to reach an agreement on spending levels for the FY 2018 budget resolution. They are struggling to find consensus on the resolution, as more conservative members call for deeper cuts over the next 10 years, and more moderate members object to deep cuts in mandatory spending.
Despite the lack of a budget resolution, the FY 2018 appropriations process is moving along at a steady pace. A draft of the FY 2018 Agriculture Appropriations bill, which sets funding for WIC, was released on Tuesday, June 27 by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, chaired by Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL).
The bill calls for a funding level of $6.15 billion for WIC including $60 million for breastfeeding peer counselors and $13.6 million for infrastructure. The appropriations bill requests a rescission of $600 million of unspent funds from WIC (the President’s budget included a $1 billion rescission). This would leave WIC with a net funding level of $5.55 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. Also of note, the bill calls for level funding of the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), which was targeted for elimination in the President's budget.
Beyond WIC, the House Agriculture Appropriations bill diverges from the President’s budget request in a number of additional areas.
The bill would provide $1.8 billion for international food aid, including the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education Program that the Trump budget would have eliminated. Rural water and waste program loans would be funded at $1.25 billion—the same as the FY 2017 funding level and $473 million above the Trump budget request.
The subcommittee hosted a markup of their bill on Wednesday, June 28. The full Appropriations Committee plans to mark up the bill this Wednesday.
Affordable Care Act Repeal Update
A few days before the start of the July 4th recess, Senate Republican leaders announced that they would be postponing a vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) until after the recess. The decision came after five Senate Republicans said they could not support a move to bring up the bill this week in the wake of yesterday’s Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score of its impacts.
CBO concluded that the Senate bill would cause an estimated 22 million more Americans to be uninsured by 2026 while reducing federal spending by $321 billion. This means the bill would result in nearly the same number of people losing their health insurance coverage as under the House-passed American Health Care Act. It also means that the bill would reverse all of the historic coverage gains achieved since the ACA was enacted in 2010.
The bill has come under attack from both the left and right. The Republican Senators who said they could not vote on the bill two weeks ago included Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rand Paul (R-KY), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Dean Heller (R-NV). You can read our analysis of the Senate bill in our policy update from June 26.
With the current bill lacking the necessary votes to pass, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated that Republican senators may pursue an effort to repair rather than replace the ACA. McConnell said last week that Senate leaders could arrive at a bipartisan plan that would stabilize the insurance market but that would not dramatically revamp the ACA. Although lawmakers are expected to have many discussions on this issue in the next few days, Senate leadership does not plan to hold any health care votes this week.