Tuesday, July 25, 2017

On the federal front ...

Major recent events, shared by The Arc's national office

  • $4.4 trillion in House cuts
  • Most disability programs level funded in HHS-Ed funding bill
  • Social security action

Budget & Appropriations - House Budget Committee Passes FY 2018 Budget Resolution

The House Budget Committee approved a Budget Resolution on a 22-14 party-line vote. The 10-year budget plan includes:

$4.4 trillion in cuts from Mandatory programs:

  • $1.5 trillion cut from Medicaid and other health programs (includes House-passed American Health Care Act cuts plus additional cuts)
  • $487 billion cut from Medicare
  • $4 billion cut from Social Security disability insurance (SSDI)
  • Almost $2.5 trillion cut from other mandatory programs like SNAP (food stamps) and other income security programs

$1.3 trillion in cuts to non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs below the current cap, while defense is increased $930 billion above the cap. This would put NDD funding (which includes many disability-related programs such as housing, employment, education, and transportation) at 17 percent below 2010 levels when factoring in inflation.

The House budget also provides "reconciliation instructions" for 11 committees to fast-track a package of spending cuts and tax cuts, requiring only 50 votes in the Senate to pass. Since the instructions specify "deficit-neutral" rather than "revenue-neutral" tax reform, the Ways & Means Committee will be able offset the costs of tax cuts with cuts to mandatory spending, such as Medicaid and Medicare. The House of Representatives is expected to take up this measure in September. The Arc strongly opposes the House Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Budget Resolution.

Budget & Appropriations - House Appropriations Committee Passes L-HHS-Ed Funding Bill

On July 19, the House Appropriations Committee approved the draft FY 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (L-HHS-ED) funding bill by a vote of 28-22. The bill provides an overall funding level of $156 billion, a $5 billion (3.1%) discretionary cut from FY 2017 levels. Most disability-related programs were level funded, with few seeing cuts and a small number receiving increases. See line items for disability related programs here. The Senate has yet to release its L-HHS-Ed funding bill, though the overall allocation is higher ($164 billion) than the House's bill ($156 billion).

Education/Appropriations - House Appropriators Reject School Choice Initiatives

The House Appropriations Committee did not fund two Trump Administration education priorities. In the Administration's FY 2018 Budget, the President requested $1 billion for "portability" of funds to public school of choice and $250 million for research and private school scholarships for low-income families. However, the Appropriations Committee report noted that these programs have not been authorized. This means that Congress would need to enact legislation to allow public education dollars to be used for both public school portability and private school choice efforts.

Social Security - SSI Restoration Act Introduced in House

Last week, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and 36 cosponsors introduced the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Restoration Act (H.R. 3307). The bill would update and enhance the SSI program by updating the general earned income disregard to $114 per month, updating the earned income disregard to $377 per month, and updating the resource limits to $10,000 for an individual and $20,000 for a couple. Congress has not adjusted these limits in many years. In addition, the SSI Restoration Act would repeal SSI's in-kind support and maintenance provisions as well as penalties for resource transfers, marriage, and state tax credits. The Arc and numerous other national organizations strongly support the SSI Restoration Act. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Social Security - Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act Introduced in House and Senate

Last week, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) with 5 cosponsors and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) with one cosponsor have introduced the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act (H.R. 3302; S. 1600). The bill would strengthen Social Security's finances by removing the current cap on annual payroll contributions, set at $127,200 in 2017. It would also provide for more accurate and adequate annual cost of living adjustments for all Social Security Old-Age, Survivors', and Disability Insurance benefits as well as Supplemental Security Income benefits. In the House, the bill has been referred to the Committees on Ways and Means, Education and the Workforce, and Energy and Commerce; in the Senate, the bill has been referred to the Committee on Finance.