On Monday, January 22nd, the House and Senate passed a Continuing Resolution (CR), funding the government through February 8th and ending a 2 ½ day partial government shut down. Much of the attention around the bill and shutdown has focused on the potential for a bipartisan agreement on the status of the rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and young immigrants known as Dreamers. The CR did not include provisions addressing Dreamers’ situation, but Republican leadership in the Senate committed to moving a bill forward in the coming weeks. NSC continues to champion legislation that provides a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers that is inclusive of middle-skill credentials.
At the same time, Congressional leadership is also working towards an agreement to raise Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget caps established in the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011. Republicans are seeking a significant increase in defense spending for FY 2018 – Congress passed legislation in December that would exceed FY’18 budget caps by more than $80 billion – but Democratic leadership has insisted that any increases in defense be accompanied by corresponding increases in non-defense spending, including funding for education and training programs under the Departments of Labor and Education.
The February 8th deadline gives Congress three weeks in which to agree to higher budget caps, allocate the increases between defense and non-defense spending, and to appropriate FY2018 funding. In recent weeks a two-year budget deal, raising the combined defense and non-defense caps by up to $250 billion over that period, seemed the most likely outcome. While the exact spending levels are uncertain at this point, Democrats will likely oppose any increases for defense programs without proportional increases in spending for non-defense programs.
Further complicating negotiations as Congress continues focus on FY 2018, the Presidential Budget Request for FY 2019 is expected to be released in early February. The administration’s budget request is not binding on Congress, but it provides insight into the administration’s priorities for the coming year and often serves as a baseline for appropriators. It is expected that the President will propose significant cuts to education, workforce, and human services programs – consistent with proposed cuts in his FY 2018 budget – which may add another layer of partisan pressure on lawmakers as they seek to complete this year’s budget.
National Skills Coalition is collecting signatures for a letter calling on Congress to adequately fund workforce and education programs and will continue to work with policy makers to support investments in these vital services.