Late last evening, the President signed yet another Continuing Resolution (CR), this time to provide FY 2018 funding for federal agencies through January 19, 2018. This action occurred one day before the previous CR was set to expire. As with the prior CR, funding is, by and large, provided at FY 2017 levels and conditions. (See our GM 17-045 of September 11, 2017, and GM 17-058 of December 8, 2017). Also included in the CR are funding extensions through March 31, 2018, for: the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI); and Community Health Centers.
Anomalies and Additions. Notably, the CR includes an “anomaly” for the Indian Health Service (IHS) providing funding increases (to be “apportioned as necessary”) to cover the costs of staffing and operating newly constructed facilities. To this effect, the CR provides a rate of operations of $11,761,000 for IHS Services and a rate for operations of $1,104,000 for IHS Facilities in addition to the regular amounts provided by the CR. The CR includes $2.1 billion in mandatory funding for the Veterans Choice program. Also included in the CR is a provision waiving “paygo” rules from applying to the $1.5 trillion tax cut enacted this week. If the provision to waive paygo rules had not been included, there would have been automatic spending cuts to important entitlement programs such as Medicare. Missing from the CR is a deal negotiated by Senators Alexander (R-TN) and Murray (D-WA) to stabilize the individual health insurance marketplaces.
Outlook for Detailed FY 2018 Appropriations Bills. With this nearly month-long CR in place, Congress will (theoretically) have time to try to reach an agreement on FY 2018 funding levels and instructions for the 12 appropriations bills when they return in early January of 2018. If that does not come about they will need to enact yet another Continuing Resolution to avoid a partial government shutdown after January 19. A major issue that remains to be dealt with are the spending caps set by the Budget Control Act. There is significant support in Congress for raising the cap for defense funding but other members, primarily Democrats, want an equal raise in non-defense spending as well. In order to raise the spending caps for FY 2018, the Budget Control Act has to be amended. Should an agreement be reached on the spending caps it would likely be for a two-year period (FYs 2018-2019).
Please let us know if we may provide additional information about FY 2018 appropriations.