The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, continues last winter’s progress in returning to a more regular order budget process and avoiding manufactured crises while continuing to make needed investments in economic growth and opportunity. For the first time since the financial crisis, this agreement marks two consecutive stable years of funding for agencies, allowing them to adapt to changing needs while also giving agencies the certainty that will allow them to plan and execute their budgets to serve the American people.
As the President has said, the legislation is a compromise and no one got everything they wanted. But, it is a step towards proving that a divided government can work without governing by crisis or threatening an economic recovery that’s growing stronger. Building off last year’s efforts to reverse harmful sequestration cuts, the legislation protects critical investments across the government that will contribute to growing our economy, creating jobs, and strengthening the middle class.
Key areas that will be positively impacted by this funding include:
Climate - The Administration’s ambitious climate and conservation agenda continues to move forward – from our efforts to cut carbon pollution from power plants, to our work on oceans, the Clean Water Act, stream protection, wildlife trafficking, and parks and monuments, the important work of protecting environment can be implemented with the resources provided in this bill. The bill also means we can continue to invest in clean energy, manufacturing, and critical early stage research and development.
Affordable Care Act - The funding provided enables the administration to move forward with implementation of the Affordable Care Act, including support for operating the exchanges.
Fixing Our Broken Immigration System – The legislation does not impede the President’s efforts to reform our broken immigration system while we work towards enactment of a bipartisan solution.
Early Learning - The legislation locks-in last year’s significant funding gains for the President’s early learning agenda, including $250 million for Preschool Development Grants to support State efforts to expand high-quality preschool for four-year olds and $500 million for Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships that will help to expand access to high-quality early education for tens of thousands of additional children across the country.
Manufacturing and Infrastructure Investment – The bill passes into law bipartisan Manufacturing Institutes legislation, which continues momentum for the Administration’s signature advanced manufacturing initiative. The Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants program will also receive $500 million to support new grants that will go towards repairing existing infrastructure, connecting people to new jobs and opportunities, and contributing to our Nation’s economic growth. Additionally, the bill extends funding for Trade Adjustment Assistance, which provides trade-affected workers with opportunities to obtain the skills, resources, and support they need to become reemployed, and provides $10 million for SelectUSA, a $3 million increase, to promote the United States as a destination for foreign business and investment.
Responding to Ebola - Nearly ninety-percent of the President’s emergency funding request was provided to support the Administration’s continuing aggressive whole-of-government response to Ebola, including both domestic response activities and funding for international efforts as part of the Administration’s global health security initiative.
Financial Industry Regulation - Two key regulators, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), will see significant funding increases, supporting their work to create a more stable and responsible financial system through continued implementation of Wall Street Reform. The CFTC received a 16 percent increase and the SEC received and 11 percent increase above the FY2014 operating level. The bill is also free of language undermining the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that some Republicans in Congress sought to include.
Degrading and Destroying ISIL - Congress also honored the President’s funding request to support our efforts to degrade and destroy ISIL, including the Administration's requests for $1.6 billion for Iraq Train and Equip and up to $500 million for Syria Train and Equip, as well as other international and counterterrorism priorities.
But, let me be clear: this legislation also contains ideological and special interest rider provisions that the Administration opposed. For example, the amendment to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act will negatively impact a critical component of financial system reform aimed at reducing taxpayer risk. In addition, the amendment to the Federal Election Campaign Act will allow individual donors to contribute to national political party committee accounts for conventions, buildings and recounts in amounts that are dramatically higher than what the law currently permits.
Furthermore, it was shortsighted to provide less than full-year funding for the Department of Homeland Security. Short-term continuing resolution funding measures are disruptive, create uncertainty, and impede efficient resource planning and execution. The Administration strongly believes DHS should be fully funded in the New Year without delay. And, the cuts to the Internal Revenue Service will severely hurt taxpayer service and deprive the federal government of billions of dollars in revenue collection.
While not everyone got what they wanted, this legislation, which provides full-year spending for most of the federal government, reflects real bipartisan compromise. Avoiding a dangerous government shutdown that would have hurt our economic progress, and locking in full year funding for some of our main domestic and national security priorities, are important victories for the American people, for our economy, and the responsible stewardship of our federal government.
Shaun Donovan is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.