On September 14, 2017, the House of Representatives approved on a nearly party line vote legislation, HR 3354, which combined all 12 House FY 2018 appropriations bills. The bill, titled the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act for FY 2018, would extend funding through the end of the fiscal year. Originally HR 3354 consisted of only Interior, Environment and Related Agencies appropriations but it became the vehicle to which the other bills were attached. The Senate is not expected to take up HR 3354 as approved by the House, but rather intends to finish marking up its own FY 2018 appropriations bills in the coming months and then negotiate with the House. A major issue is whether Congress will raise the cap on defense spending and the cap non-defense spending before enactment of final appropriations.
HR 3354 contains many controversial legislative riders and would provide $1.57 billion toward construction a wall on our Nation’s southern border – provisions strongly opposed by most Congressional Democrats.
HR 3354, if enacted, would exceed the legal spending cap for defense spending by
$72 billion and would trigger a significant sequestration of defense program funding. In order to avoid a defense program sequestration, the Budget Control Act would need to be amended to raise the cap. There is sentiment in Congress for raising the spending cap for non-defense and the spending cap for defense programs but it remains to be seen if that will happen. Clearly, raising the caps would directly affect the FY 2018 appropriations process.
The omnibus bill passed by the House on September 14 is nearly the same as the Indian Health Service (IHS) and Indian Affairs (BIA/BIE) provisions approved earlier in the year by the House Appropriations Committee (HR 3354; H. Rept. 115-238). One difference is that the House approved an amendment offered by Representative O’Halleran (D-AZ) which would move $10 million from the Department of Interior Office of the Secretary to BIA Construction.
Taking into account the O’Halleran amendment, the measure would provide for Indian Affairs $20 million more than FY 2017 and $393 million more than the Administration’s request. For the IHS it would provide $97 million more than FY 2017 and $398 million more than the Administration’s request. For detailed information on these funding recommendations see our General Memoranda 17-039 (IHS) and 17-044 (BIA/BIE).
Currently, federal agencies are being funded via a Continuing Resolution (PL 115-56) at FY 2017 levels through December 8, 2017. (See our General Memorandum 17-045).
Please let us know if we may provide additional information regarding FY 2018 appropriations matters.