The House and Senate have approved HR 4378, a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government through November 21, 2019, at largely FY 2019 terms and spending levels. The White House has indicated that the President will sign the bill. The CR is designed to give Congress leeway to continue negotiating the FY 2020 spending bills even after the beginning of the new fiscal year (October 1, 2019). None of the twelve FY 2020 appropriations bills have been enacted. As of this writing the House had approved all but two of its appropriations bills, including passage of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies bill. The Senate has yet to finish any of its appropriations measures, although the Senate Appropriations Committee has marked up its version of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies bill. We will provide a comparison of the House and Senate Interior bills as they go to conference.
It has unfortunately become the norm that federal agencies are funded for periods of time for under CRs, limiting their ability to plan and wasting time on constant reallocation of funds. Tribes and tribal organizations are directly affected in the same manner. The Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY 2019 was signed four and a half months into the fiscal year. The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indigenous Peoples of the United States held a hearing on September 25, 2019, regarding pending bills (HR 1128 and HR 1135) which would authorize advance appropriations for some areas of the Indian Health Service (IHS) and/or the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) budgets. (The Senate companion bills are S 229 and S 2541, respectively). There was considerable testimony about the problems caused by federal agencies having to operate under the restrictions of CRs.
In addition to the CR, the following “anomalies” are included in HR 4378:
- Extension of funding for the Special Diabetes Program for Indians, Community Health Centers Fund, National Health Service Corps, and the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program through November 21, 2019, all of which were facing expiring authorizations on October 1, 2019;
- Extension of funding for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF) and the Health Profession Opportunity Grant demonstration program through November 21, 2109, which also faced expiration of their authorizations on October 1, 2019;
- Extension through November 21, 2019, of the Alaska moratorium provision that, with some exceptions, prohibits IHS from contracting directly under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) with any tribe that is a member of a regional tribal health organization;
- The bill also addresses in the Indian Health Service budget the staffing and operation needs for facilities that were opened, renovated or expanded in FYs 2019 and 2020, providing $18,397,500 in the Services account and $631,000 in the Facilities account. In the Administration’s request for anomalies for the CR they listed the Cherokee Nation Regional Health Center and the Northern California Youth Regional Treatment Center as the facilities to receive these funds; and
- The Census Bureau will be able to increase its rate of spending in preparation for the 2020 Census.
As is common in CRs, the funds will not be distributed for programs that may have high initial rates of operation or for funds which are fully distributed at the beginning of the fiscal year. This is because of the possibility that Congress might eliminate or reduce funding for those particular programs in a final appropriations bill. The CR directs agencies to use the most limited funding action permitted in the Act in order to provide for continuation of projects and activities. Agencies will be allowed to apportion funds in a manner that would avoid furloughing employees.
Attached is an 8-page section- by-section summary of the CR as prepared by the House Appropriations Committee.
We will continue to follow developments on FY 2020 appropriations.
Please let us know if we may provide additional information about FY 2020 appropriations.