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Appropriations Update: Republicans Fail to Make Tangible Progress

Republicans are leaving on a seven-week vacation having failed to pass a budget or send a single appropriations bill to the President for his signature.

Since President Obama submitted his Budget to Congress in early February, Republicans in Congress have failed to pass a budget of their own or send a single appropriations bill to the President’s desk for his signature.  The bills that we have seen hurt the middle class, leave struggling families behind and threaten our national security.  For example, Republicans have failed to fully address the opioid epidemic in America, which kills 78 people every day, are proposing to underfund critical energy research and development activities, and are proposing to shortchange wartime operations that support the fight to defeat ISIL and maintain stability in Afghanistan. As Congress prepares to depart on a seven-week vacation after failing to make tangible progress on funding bills, we urge Congressional Republicans upon their return to help American families by passing appropriations bills that grow our economy, provide for a sound national defense, and are free of ideological riders.  The Republican bills fail to meet this challenge in almost every area:

Education and Training

  • Head Start: Senate Republicans would cut almost $400 million in Head Start funding compared to the President’s Budget, which would be insufficient even to maintain the program’s current enrollment levels. Both House and Senate Republicans failed to provide the $292 million increase requested in the Budget to increase the number of Head Start children who can participate in a full school day and year Head Start program. Research indicates that children learn more and are better prepared for kindergarten when they attend high-quality early learning programs that offer more hours of class-time than is currently offered in many part-day or part-year Head Start programs.
  • Early Education: Both House and Senate Republicans would cut Preschool Development Grants by almost 30 percent compared to the President’s Budget. This program’s first round of grants are on-track to provide over 100,000 children from low-income households with access to high-quality preschool in more than 200 communities in eighteen states across the nation.  Under the President’s plan, the program would be able to make grants to approximately eight additional States so that they can work to address the large unmet need for high-quality early learning.
  • K-12 Education:  The House Republicans shortchange our teachers and set back efforts to support magnet programs that can expand opportunity for students.  The House Republican bill cuts programs that support teachers by over $500 million compared to the FY 2016 funding level, reducing funds for teacher professional development, school principals, and programs that prepare teachers to excel in the classroom.  The bill eliminates funding for magnet schools, an initiative that was just reauthorized in the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act.  Magnet schools can be an effective strategy for expanding opportunities for innovative educational programs and helping to foster socioeconomic diversity in schools.
  • Student Aid: Both the House and Senate Republicans would cut Student Aid Administration by over $80 million compared to the President’s Budget.  This cut jeopardizes critical work, including the ability of the Department of Education to manage and service a $1.2 trillion student loan portfolio, strengthen oversight of institutions to better protect students and taxpayers, and provide high-quality loan servicing to more than 40 million borrowers. Without adequate funding, borrowers will not receive the help they need to understand their loan repayment options, such as income-based repayment, and how to prevent delinquency and default.
  • Pell Grants: House Republicans are proposing to cut FY 2017 funding for Pell Grants by $1.3 billion and put the program on track for lower funding in future years. They have also denied about 1 million students the opportunity to receive Pell to support a third semester of study during the year, by failing to include an important provision (sometimes called “Year-Round” or “Summer” Pell), allowing students to complete college faster and more affordably. The Senate bill included the Year-Round Pell provision. 
  • Education Innovation and Research: House Republicans are proposing to eliminate Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grants, which were just created in the recent bipartisan reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  Over the last five years, similar grants enabled more than 1,000 school districts, representing all 50 states and DC, to identify what works in supporting effective teachers and principals, turn around persistently low-performing schools, and leverage technology to accelerate student learning.  Eliminating EIR would end a critical source of support for identifying and scaling-up innovative ways to address our students’ and schools’ biggest challenges.  
  • Job Training: House Republicans are proposing to defund grants to expand the proven learn-and-earn apprenticeship model after just one year of implementation and slash funding for employment services and training for workers affected by mass layoffs or natural disasters. Both House and Senate Republicans failed to provide the funding needed to achieve the vision of the bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which seeks to better align training with jobs and ensure that workers have reliable information about which training programs work best.

Support for Working Families

  • Quality, Affordable Child Care: Both the House and Senate Republicans cut funding for affordable child care as compared to the President’s Budget, failing to provide the support necessary for states to implement the health, safety, and quality improvements called for in the bipartisan reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant. These grants help States preserve access to quality and affordable child care. House and Senate Republicans also shortchange innovation by failing to include funding for pilots to develop and test the most effective ways of providing care to families living in rural areas or working non-traditional hours.
  • Worker Protection: Both House and Senate Republicans fail to provide the needed funding to protect the health, safety, wages, working conditions, civil rights, collective bargaining rights, and retirement security of American workers. The Senate provides $185 million less than the President’s request for the Department of Labor's worker protection agencies; the House Republicans cut them by almost $250 million. These cuts would mean fewer workers would get the wages they have earned and more workers would be exposed to serious on-the-job hazards. The House Republicans also propose to slash funding for the National Labor Relations Board by more than 20 percent, crippling its ability to protect workers from unlawful treatment on the job for taking action to improve their working conditions and hampering its ability to investigate and litigate unfair labor practices and protect the right of workers to organize.


  • Opioid Addiction Treatment: Republicans failed to fully address the opioid epidemic in America, which kills 78 people every day. Without sufficient funding to combat opioid abuse, misuse, and overdose, Republicans have short-changed Americans most in need.  The President proposed $1.1 billion over two years to expand access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use to help those Americans seeking treatment get the care that they need.
  • Mental Health Care: Republicans have failed to address the need to expand access to mental health care. The Administration proposed a new $500 million investment to help engage individuals with serious mental illness in care, improve access to care by increasing service capacity and the behavioral health workforce, and ensure that behavioral health care systems work for everyone.
  • Cancer Moonshot: Republicans also have failed to take the necessary action that would support the National Cancer Moonshot initiative.  The Moonshot initiative aims to bring about a decade’s worth of advances in five years, making more therapies available to more patients, while also improving our ability to prevent cancer and detect it at an early stage. These critical investments support the health and well-being of the nation and promote science and innovation.
  • Affordable Care Act: Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more than 20 million people have gained health insurance coverage, bringing the uninsured rate below 10 percent for the first time ever. Through a combination of funding cuts and ideologically motivated restrictions, House Republicans would obstruct the functioning of the Health Insurance Marketplaces, jeopardizing or disrupting coverage for the more than 11 million people currently enrolled in health insurance plans through the Marketplaces. Congressional Republicans are also proposing to deny assistance to States expanding their Medicaid programs under the ACA, jeopardizing coverage for many millions more.
  • Health Care Costs: House Republicans also seek to turn back the clock on the progress we’ve made in containing health care costs and improving quality. Recent years have seen exceptionally slow growth across a wide range of measures of health care costs. The ACA has contributed to these trends by reducing excessive payments to Medicare providers and by supporting innovative new ways of paying for health care in Medicare, Medicaid, and throughout our health care system that encourage lower-cost, higher-quality care. These effects are expected to grow in the years ahead as successful delivery system reforms mature and are scaled up and additional innovative reforms are implemented. But House Republicans would block most of these innovations.
  • Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation: House Republicans again are proposing to rescind funding for cost-saving and quality-improving delivery system innovation at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (Innovation Center), which is actively testing new payment and service delivery models. One model, a test of the Diabetes Prevention Program among Medicare beneficiaries, generated $2,650 in savings per beneficiary across five quarters. Another, the Pioneer Accountable Care Organization demonstration, generated over $384 million in savings to Medicare over its first two years while delivering high quality patient care, and continues to demonstrate savings. The Innovation Center’s demonstrations also provide one of the main opportunities for providers to participate in alternative payment models under the recently-passed bipartisan Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act.
  • Title X Family Planning: House Republicans would eliminate funding for Title X Family Planning, which serves more than four million low-income women and men each year. Services funded by this program, which do not include abortion, help avert nearly one million unintended pregnancies annually.  Family Planning centers also provide breast and cervical cancer screening and screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.  For more than 40 years, Title X Family Planning centers have served as a critical source of high quality and cost-effective health services for low-income women and men.
  • Health Care Research and Quality: House Republicans also are proposing to underfund the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) by 23 percent. AHRQ invests in research to find the best ways to translate clinical science into care delivery, which forms the foundation for delivery system reform efforts aimed at reducing health care costs and improving quality system-wide. For example, AHRQ's research developed methods for measuring and reducing rates of patient harm in hospitals, which contributed to a 17 percent decline in hospital-acquired conditions between 2010 and 2014, corresponding to an estimated 87,000 lives saved and $20 billion in cost savings since 2010.

Housing Assistance, Homelessness, and Supportive Services

  • Housing Choice Vouchers: Congressional Republicans have failed to provide sufficient funding for the administration of the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, which is necessary to improve mobility, and to ensure that assisted housing units are safe and habitable.
  • Homeless Assistance: Senate Republicans would underfund homeless renewal grants by $26 million and do not support any new permanent supportive housing units to end homelessness for chronically homeless individuals. In addition, Congressional Republicans have failed to provide the 10,000 new targeted housing vouchers or the 8,000 rapid rehousing interventions that were requested in the President’s Budget – a crucial component of the plan to end homelessness among families with children by 2020.
  • Choice Neighborhoods: House and Senate Republicans are proposing to hamstring the Choice Neighborhoods program by proposing to fund half as many implementation grants as requested in 2017, leaving dozens of distressed communities unable to access critical funding for comprehensive and community-driven approaches to neighborhood transformation. Senate Republicans also have proposed a requirement that implementation grants be awarded only to prior planning grantees, which would penalize communities that have invested their own funds in large-scale planning efforts and may be strong candidates for an implementation grant.

National Security

  • War Funding: House Republicans are proposing to shortchange wartime operations funding by $16 billion, which would deplete essential funding for ongoing operations by the middle of the next fiscal year, introducing a dangerous level of uncertainty for our men and women in uniform carrying out missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere.  Our troops need and deserve guaranteed, predictable support as they execute their missions year round, particularly in light of the dangers they face in executing the Nation's ongoing overseas contingency operations.
  • Troop Levels: House Republicans are also proposing to increase troop levels above what our military leaders say is needed.  Increasing troop levels in the manner proposed by House Republicans would cost the Department of Defense approximately $30 billion over five years. This scenario risks creating a future hollow force, in which force structure exists, but the resources to make it ready do not follow. 
  • FBI Headquarters: House Republicans have proposed just $440 million of the $1.4 billion requested for what is needed to award a design and construction contract for the new FBI headquarters facility this year. Absent a new, modern, and secure headquarters facility, the ability of the FBI to fully support its critical national security and law enforcement missions may be compromised.
  • Veterans Affairs: Compared to the President’s Budget, the House Republicans are proposing to underfund the Department of Veterans Affairs by $1.5 billion, including a decrease of $1.2 billion for Medical Care.  This reduction would negatively impact veterans' access to medical care and reduce VA's ability to maintain medical facility infrastructure and activate new and replacement facilities with sufficient staff and equipment.  
  • Refugees and Other Humanitarian Entrants: House Republicans are proposing to reduce funding for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program at the State Department by $173 million, compared to the President’s Budget. House and Senate Republicans also failed to provide sufficient funds to the Department of Health and Human Services for programs that enable refugees and other humanitarian entrants to become self-sufficient and contribute to the American economy, providing $134 million below the President’s Budget. At these funding levels, the Departments of State and HHS will face significant challenges as the Administration seeks to meet the President’s commitment to admit at least 100,000 refugees in FY 2017. This commitment maintains our long-standing tradition of providing refuge to some of the world’s most vulnerable people, while safeguarding the American public through continued efforts to strengthen our robust screening protocols.
  • International Health, Democracy, and Human Rights: House Republicans are proposing to eliminate funding that supports critical collective efforts by international organizations to fight poverty, promote democratic governance, protect the environment, promote women and children’s health, end violence against women, and protect human rights. In addition, House Republicans are proposing to prohibit funding for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). UNFPA’s programs provide a broad spectrum of critical health services for women and children, including helping to increase life expectancy, end female genital mutilation and cutting, reduce transmission of HIV/AIDS, and ensure access to essential health care services for women and families impacted by emergencies.
  • Military Pay and Healthcare: House Republicans have rejected the pay raise proposal and most of the TRICARE health care reform proposals included in the FY 2017 Budget request.  These reforms would save $500 million in FY 2017 and $11 billion through FY 2021.
  • BRAC: House Republicans would prohibit the Department of Defense from proposing, planning, or conducting an additional Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round that would allow the Department of Defense to make better use of scarce resources to support essential requirements and maintain readiness.
  • ATF: Senate Republicans have failed to provide the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) with the resources to hire 200 agents and investigators to help enforce existing gun laws and regulations designed to take violent criminals off the street, deter other unlawful activity, and prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands.

Research and Development

  • Clean Energy Research, Development, and Demonstration (RD&D): Congressional Republicans are proposing to significantly underfund critical programs that support the development and commercialization of clean energy technologies.  For example, cuts by House Republicans to the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) would reduce funding for renewable energy research by 36 percent, sustainable transportation research by 37 percent, and energy efficiency research by 30 percent compared to the FY 2017 Budget.  Senate Republicans are not much better as they are proposing to reduce funding for renewable energy research by 26 percent, sustainable transportation research by 27 percent, and energy efficiency research by 20 percent.  Congressional Republicans are proposing to also underfund the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).  At these reduced funding levels, RD&D projects supported in cooperation with industry, universities, and the national labs would be reduced or cancelled, limiting innovation and technological advancement.  Further, funding at these levels also would impede the development of solutions to reduce U.S. dependency on oil and reduce energy waste, undermine the Nation's competitiveness in the future global clean energy economy, and run counter to the leadership the U.S. is providing through Mission Innovation, an effort with nineteen countries to accelerate the pace of clean energy innovation by doubling public investment in clean energy RD&D by 2020.
  • National Network of Manufacturing Institutes: House Republicans have failed to provide funding for advanced manufacturing institutes at the Department of Commerce, putting at risk up to two institutes planned for launch in 2016 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and would prohibit NIST from launching an additional institute in 2017 as requested in the President’s Budget.  These advanced manufacturing institutes play an important part in this revitalization of American manufacturing, bringing together companies, universities, community colleges, and Government to co-invest in the development of world-leading manufacturing technologies and capabilities that U.S.-based manufacturers can apply in production.

Protecting our Environment and Conservation at Home and Abroad

  • Land and Water Conservation Fund: House Republicans are proposing to slash Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) projects and grants compared to the FY 2016 enacted level and the President’s Budget, the vast majority taken from land acquisition projects, severely impeding the ability to protect and conserve tracts of land important for recreation, conservation, and historic preservation.
  • Environmental Protecting Agency (EPA): House and Senate Republicans are proposing to slash EPA’s operating budget compared to the FY 2016 enacted level and the President’s Budget, which would significantly undermine agency activities, including critical efforts to mitigate climate change and improve air quality through commonsense standards and voluntary programs, timely guidance and technical assistance to State and tribal air agencies, improved flexibility and enhanced partnership with the States, and continued progress on eliminating the State implementation plan backlog.  EPA's ability to enforce and oversee critical environmental protections for air, water, and land, would also be hampered by decreased capacity to investigate and develop civil and criminal cases against companies and individuals responsible for contaminating the environment. 
  • Green Climate Fund: House Republicans are trying to restrict the Administration from fulfilling its commitment to contribute to the Green Climate Fund, which supports developing countries to reduce carbon pollution and strengthen their resilience to climate change. House Republicans are attempting to prevent the Departments of State and the Treasury from providing any of the $750 million in funding for the GCF requested in the FY 2017 Budget.  Failure to meet our GCF pledge would hurt developing countries as they begin implementing their commitments under the Paris climate agreement; slow the growth of new markets and export opportunities for U.S. companies poised to capitalize on increased demand for clean energy and other climate-related technologies and expertise; and undermine U.S. strategic interests by hindering efforts to address climate change and its potential impacts on poverty, resource shortages, political instability, and conflict in global hotspots.


  • 21st Century Clean Transportation Plan: Congressional Republicans have failed to take the necessary action that would address climate change and expand transportation options for American families while reducing carbon emissions, cutting oil consumption, and creating new jobs.  Republicans did not provide the full $3.5 billion to expand access to transit, an integral part of the President’s vision for a 21st Century Clean Transportation Plan.
  • TIGER Grants: Congressional Republicans also would underfund the popular Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program. TIGER grants support infrastructure projects of national and regional significance.  Demand for TIGER grants has been overwhelming, with over $134 billion requested in from more than 6,700 applications to date.

Wall Street Reform

  • SEC: House Republicans are proposing to cut funding for SEC by $226 million below the President’s Budget. This funding level would hinder SEC's enforcement, examination, and market oversight functions and undercut investor protections strengthened by Wall Street Reform that benefit both consumers and Main Street.  House Republicans would further shortchange SEC's core programs by mandating that funding for IT initiatives increase by $50 million over the FY 2016 enacted level and prohibiting authorized IT spending from the agency's mandatory Reserve Fund.  Taken together, the House provisions would inhibit SEC's ability to improve oversight and examination functions in a way that investors expect and deserve.  Senate Republicans would cut SEC funding by $176 million below the President’s Budget, undermining the agency’s ability to effectively oversee increasingly complex financial markets.
  • CFTC: House and Senate Republicans are proposing to cut funding for the CFTC by $80 million below the President’s Budget request, which will hamstring the agency's surveillance and enforcement capabilities, hinder examination of critical market infrastructure, and undermine oversight of derivatives trading. In addition, the CFTC will be slower to respond to requests from market participants, including the provision of regulatory relief to end-users. The FY 2017 Budget request includes a commonsense proposal to provide CFTC with appropriate and stable funding through user fees beginning in FY 2018, a change that would shift CFTC costs from the general taxpayer to the primary beneficiaries of CFTC's oversight in a manner that maintains the efficiency, competitiveness, and financial integrity of the markets it regulates.

Core Government Functions

  • Social Security: Congressional Republicans are proposing to cut the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) base administrative funding below the 2016 enacted level.  These funding levels would mean cuts to staffing at call centers and field office hours that provide seniors and people with disabilities information about and assistance applying for Social Security benefits.  These cuts also would mean longer waits for appointments and phone calls and more backlogs for disability appeals and other critical work.  House Republicans would provide SSA with $772 million less than was requested by the President’s Budget, while Senate Republicans would cut funding by $582 million compared to the President’s Budget.  As an illustration of the significant effects of these cuts, the House Republican funding level could result in approximately 400,000 fewer disability claims and 200,000 fewer hearings processed. Retirement claims also could be processed more slowly. House Republicans have also failed to provide $393 million in necessary funding for SSA’s cost-effective program integrity work.  There is clear evidence that every dollar spent on SSA program integrity efforts results in significantly more money saved.  For instance, SSA estimates that medical continuing disability reviews conducted in FY 2017 will yield about $8 on average in net Federal program savings over 10 years per $1 spent. 
  • Census: Both House and Senate Republicans have failed to provide adequate funding for the Census Bureau's Periodic Censuses and Programs account, which supports the 2020 Decennial Census. The Census Bureau is undertaking significant efforts to prepare for the 2020 Decennial Census that include research, testing, and implementation of new design changes that have the potential to save more than $5 billion compared to repeating previous methods.  House and Senate Republicans would put these design changes at risk, potentially increasing the cost to the taxpayer for administering the 2020 Decennial Census or requiring unsustainable reductions in other critical surveys such as the American Community Survey, the Economic Census, or the Census of Governments.
  • Tax Compliance and Taxpayer Services: If the IRS were funded at the level proposed by House Republicans, the Federal Government would collect $11 billion less in outstanding taxes in FY 2017 than if the IRS’s FY 2010 staffing levels had been maintained and the IRS had the resources needed to make sure large multinational corporations and all American workers, including the wealthiest, play by the same rules.  House Republicans cut the IRS budget by $766 million from the President’s Budget request and $1.1 billion below FY 2010 levels.  This reduction would bring IRS funding to FY 1993 levels, in real terms, hindering the IRS’s ability to provide service to taxpayers and increasing the deficit.  Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are proposing to keep funding for the IRS flat from FY 2016, a cut of $530 million from the President’s Budget and more than $900 million below the FY 2010 enacted level. 
  • Federal Buildings Fund: House and Senate Republicans would continue the practice of under-funding the necessary construction and maintenance of federal buildings. They do so by funding the Federal Buildings Fund (FBF) at levels well below the level of rent collections from agencies, which has become common in recent years.  Underfunding construction and renovation is particularly damaging, as the Government must be a good steward of its own assets, able to take advantage of opportunities to save money over the long term and maintain its buildings adequately to avoid more costly failures in the future. Congressional Republicans completely deny funding for the next phase of the Department of Homeland Security's headquarters consolidation at St. Elizabeths in Washington, D.C.

Michael Deich is Senior Advisor at the White House Office of Management and Budget.