Week Ending July 17, 2020

House Advances Key Spending Bills and Senate Action Urgently Needed to Help Fund the Front Lines

  • Advancement of House Spending Bills
  • Urgent Action Needed on State and Local Aid

Advancement of House Spending Bills

The House Appropriations Committee has worked in a bipartisan manner to pass all 12 of its fiscal year (FY) 2021 spending bills out of committee. The House appropriations top-line subcommittee allocations for all 12 spending bills, known as 302(b) allocations, total $1.298 trillion in discretionary funding, which is above the FY 2021 top-line spending caps that were set by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019. The allocations include $247.4 billion in extra emergency spending to continue to help our nation address the coronavirus and veterans’ health care. The bills also include language that blocks the president from using funds to pay for the border wall. Despite the House Appropriations work on its FY 2021 spending bills, the Senate Appropriations Committee has not announced their schedule to work on their funding bills. If Congress doesn’t complete its work, they will need to pass a continuing resolution (CR) before the current fiscal year ends on Sept. 30 in order to avoid a government shutdown and continue to fund the federal government. Any such CR is likely to be at current funding levels through Election Day with possibly another CR until early 2021.

  • Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA: This bill prioritizes funding for essential food programs and services to help address increased food insecurity during these uncertain times. The bill provides $153 billion in both discretionary and mandatory funding, an increase of $331 million above the FY 2020 enacted level. It includes $23.98 billion in total discretionary funding, an increase of $487 million above the FY 2020 enacted level.
    • Nutrition program funding includes $68.27 billion in mandatory spending for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); $5.75 billion in discretionary funding for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program; and $25.131 billion in mandatory funding for child nutrition programs.
    • The bill blocks two harmful administration rules the Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents final rule (ABAWD) and the Standard Utility Allowance (SUA) proposed rule that would make it harder for people in need to get food assistance.
  • Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies: This bill includes funding to strengthen civil rights and to foster police reform. For FY 2021 this bill includes $71.473 billion in discretionary spending, a $1.7 billion reduction from FY 2020 enacted levels due to the completion of the 2020 Census. The bill provides $33.2 billion for the Justice Department, a $972.5 million increase over the FY 2020 enacted level, and $9.5 billion for the Commerce Department, a $5.7 billion cut due to the 2020 Census.
    • This bill includes $400 million in grants for police initiatives, such as implementing statutes for independent investigation of law enforcement. It also would make state and local Byrne, JAG and COPS grants contingent on changes in police policies, including banning chokeholds and requiring the FBI to update its 2006 report on white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement.
  • Labor, Health and Human Services, Education: This bill provides necessary funding for investment in health care, education and workforce needs. For FY 2021 the bill includes $196.5 billion in overall funding, an increase of $2.4 billion above the FY 2020 enacted level and $20.8 billion above the president’s 2021 budget request. The bill provides $12.7 billion for the Department of Labor (DOL), $73.5 billion for the Department of Education (ED), and $96.4 billion for Health and Human Services (HHS). The bill includes $13 billion for Social Security Administration (SSA) operating expenses, with an increase of $100 million above the FY 2020 enacted level to hire additional staff at field offices, teleservice and processing centers.
    • To continue to address the coronavirus, this bill includes $24.425 billion in emergency spending to improve the public health infrastructure. It also helps protect workers on the front lines by making public on a weekly basis the inventory and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) from the national stockpile. The failure of the administration to manage the stockpile and address shortages of PPE has jeopardized the lives of health care workers and other essential workers.
    • The bill adopts a priority for AFSCME members who provide behavioral health care. It funds the Loan Repayment Program for Substance Use Disorder Treatment Workforce with $17 million, which is a boost of $5 million over the FY 2020 enacted level.
    • With the continuation of high unemployment claims due to the coronavirus, this bill also includes $925 million in emergency contingency funding to help states pay unemployment assistance and an additional $2.6 billion to support the federal-state unemployment system.
    • Language provided by AFSCME that would block the Department of Labor’s final rule that waives merit-staffing requirements to allow privatization of the Employment Service (ES) was also included in the House Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies bill.
  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: This bill includes $36.76 billion in regular appropriations, an increase of $771 million above the FY 2020 enacted level, and $5.11 billion over the president’s 2021 request. Additionally, the bill includes $15 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations for investments in critical infrastructure. The State and Tribal Assistance Grants would receive $4.36 billion, an increase of $119 million above the FY 2020 enacted level and $1.52 billion above the president’s budget request. Within this amount, the bill includes:
    • $2.76 billion for Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, equal to the enacted level and $782 million above the president’s budget request.
    • $189 million for targeted grants for drinking water contaminants and wastewater treatment for lead, nitrates, and other health hazards, an increase of $36 million above the enacted level and $86 million above the request.
  • Transportation-Housing and Urban Development: To improve access to housing and our nation’s transportation infrastructure, this bill includes $75.9 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of $1.7 billion above the FY 2020 enacted level and $16.8 billion above the president’s 2021 budget request. It also provides $75 billion to support the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic by investing in our nation’s transportation and housing infrastructure.
    • $1 billion for National Infrastructure Investments (TIGER/BUILD), equal to the FY 2020 enacted level and the president’s budget request.
    • $61.9 billion, consistent with the INVEST in America Act, for programs funded from the Highway Trust Fund, an increase of $14.7 billion above the FY 2020 enacted level and $11.1 billion above the president’s budget request.
    • $18.9 billion for the Federal Transit Administration.
    • $15.9 billion, consistent with the INVEST in America Act, for Transit Formula Grants funded from the Highway Trust Fund, an increase of $5.8 billion above the FY 2020 enacted level and $4.9 billion above the president’s budget request.
    • $510 million for Transit Infrastructure Grants, equal to the FY 2020 enacted level and $510 million above the president’s budget request.
    • $2.2 billion for Capital Investment Grants, equal to the authorized level, an increase of $197 million above the FY 2020 enacted level, and $286 million above the president’s budget request.
    • Public Housing: For base non-emergency appropriations, compared to current FY 2020, the Public Housing Operating Fund was increased 2.2% or $100 million; and the Public Housing Capital Fund was increased 11% or $311 million. This combined $411 million increase reflects roughly one-quarter of the bill’s total increase, which, while insufficient, is helpful given AFSCME’s support for public housing. The Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) was again zeroed out, which AFSCME supports.
    • For emergency appropriations in response to COVID-19 and the recession, there is $24.25 billion appropriated for the Public Housing Capital Fund, which is a significant increase of almost 1000%.

What You Need to Know: By the end of July, the House plans to pass 10 out of the 12 appropriations bills by voting on two minibus packages. The first minibus package will include: Agriculture-FDA; Interior, Environment; Military Construction, Veterans Affairs; and State, Foreign Operations. The Homeland Security and Legislative Branch spending bills will not be brought to the House floor because they are controversial.

Urgent Action Needed on State and Local Aid

Additional State and Local Aid Is Still Needed

We urgently need you to call both of your U.S. senators. Time is running out for Congress to provide aid before state and local governments lay off more workers. An estimated 1.5 million public employees have already been given pink slips. Front-line public service workers like you are critical to fighting this pandemic and reopening our economy. America can do neither without you.

Please call your senators right now at 1-888-981-9704.

Tell your senators that it’s urgent to fund the front lines NOW with at least $1 trillion for states, counties, and cities – including more Medicaid and education funding – for essential public services to fight COVID and reopen our economy.

For more ways to take action, visit the AFSCME COVID-19 webpage.

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