Washington Budget Updates
Last Monday, President Trump released his Budget Request for FY 2019, which outlined a detailed guide to the budget, tax, and program changes the Administration is seeking for the upcoming fiscal year. The budget request did not reflect the Bipartisan Budget Agreement (BBA) made last week, which raises funds for both defense and non-defense discretionary programs (the BBA was finalized only days before the release of the budget request). Thus, the budget request reflects lower spending allocations than Congress will be working with for FY19. Nonetheless, the request is important because it reveals the President’s priorities through proposed funding levels for every discretionary program in the federal budget and their broad fiscal agenda (which dictates much Administration-led public policy). This being said, it is important to remember that this budget is simply a request, not law. Congress holds the power of the purse and thus the buck ultimately stops at Capitol Hill.
This year’s President’s Budget Request dealt a few blows to disability programs. While the Department of Health and Human Services received a slight increase, the increases were not dealt to disability programs. The Administration’s top priorities within the HHS budget pertained to the opioid crisis and addressing mental health issues. Within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), programs such as Independent Living Centers, the University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, and the State Councils on Developmental Disabilities all received a decrease in funding. Fortunately, the Assistive Technology Act was level funded at $32 million, while the separate grant competition for Alternative Financing Programs (AFPs) was eliminated.
The budget request officially kicks off the FY 2019 appropriations season. However, Congress is furiously trying to finish a final funding measure for FY 2018, which must be passed by March 23 when the current continuing resolution expires.