public-policy newsletter

Federal Policy Outlook

February 15, 2018

We know that when we apply today’s resources to building and maintaining well-being, we can help to prevent problems before they occur and foster everyone’s ability to thrive and meaningfully contribute to our communities now and in the future. Last Friday, Congress took a step in that direction by passing a budget deal that raises both the defense and non-defense discretionary spending caps over two years and funds the federal government through March 23 to allow Congress time to determine the amounts to appropriate for specific programs for the remainder of fiscal year 2018.

The package notably reauthorizes the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for ten years anddoubles the Child Care and Development Block Grant over two-years. The Family First Prevention Services Act was also included in the spending package. The deal, nonetheless, does not include a solution for the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, or other immigration issues. This week, the Senate is engaged in floor debate over the potential details of an immigration resolution and are voting on amendments to the “shell bill” today. On Wednesday evening, a bipartisan group of Senators released a plan that would provide protections for Dreamers while giving $25 billion for border security. The plan would limit Dreamers’ ability to sponsor parents, but would not include broader changes to legal immigration or interior enforcement, which will likelyproduce strong opposition from less-moderate Republicans and the White House. NHSA supports the Dream Act of 2017 and opposes other measures that would include the Administration’s four-pillar framework. You can voice your support for the Dream Act by using the National Education Association’s action center to contact your Senators today. In the meantime, on Tuesday a second federal judge ordered a nationwide injunction to halt the impending termination of the DACA program.

Looking ahead, the Administration released its budget proposal on Monday for fiscal year 2019, which begins October 1, 2018. Much like last year’s “skinny budget,” the President’s plan seeks significant increases for defense spending, while limiting many of the programs that build and maintain well-being for families and allow our communities to thrive. The budget proposal would drastically reduce funding for programs including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and others, while altogether eliminating federal afterschool funding. We need a forward-looking federal budget that adequately funds human service programs, ensuring collectively available public goods will meet the needs of our communities today and in the future.