Federal Budget in the Spotlight When Congress Returns to DC
Following the Easter Break/District Work Period both the Senate and House will be back in session the week of April 24. At the top of the "must do" list is addressing the current continuing resolution which expires on April 28. Senate and House leaders from both parties have expressed confidence that a new budget agreement will be reached to fund the remainder of fiscal year 2017 and, thereby, avoiding any potential government shutdown. The most likely outcome would be another continuing resolution for a week or two while negotiators work out either an omnibus bill funding the government through September 30, or a stopgap measure of the same length.
President Trump's "skinny budget" released March 16, proposes an overall top funding level of $1.065 trillion for fiscal year 2018 (FY'18). The President's budget proposes cutting most agencies with the exceptions of the Departments of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Defense. Under the President's plan, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) would be cut by 31.4%, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would be cut by 11%, Department of Transportation by 12.7%, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) by 16.3%, the Department of Interior by 11.7%, the Department of Energy by 5.6%, and the Department of Agriculture by 20.7%. Included in the recommended cuts are elimination of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program from the DOT budget, and elimination of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Chesapeake Bay Program. The budget does recommend increases to the State Revolving Fund program (SRFs) by $4 million to $2.3 billion and level funding for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program. President Trump is expected to release a full budget proposal for FY '18 in May.