Legislative Policy Alert: FY17 Appropriations Update

The Senate & 302(b) Allocations

The Senate has made its first steps to funding the federal government for Fiscal Year 2017. On Thursday, April 14, the Senate Appropriations Committee agreed by a 29-1 vote to approve its 302(b) allocations for all 12 federal appropriations bills. Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) is the lone member who voted against the agreement. 302(b) allocations are determined by the appropriations committee each year as part of the appropriations process for the upcoming Fiscal Year. The appropriations subcommittees use these 302(b) allocations as top-line spending caps  as they begin to craft their individual spending bills.

The Labor-HHS-Ed allocation for FY 17, which includes the ‘well-rounded’ programs authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), is $161.857 billion. This is roughly $270 million (-0.2%) below the FY16 levels. Although a minor decrease, this is not necessarily concerning until the Labor-HHS-Ed subcommittee releases its spending bill that breaks down funding for specific education programs, including those authorized as part of ESSA.

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) filed cloture on the Senate’s FY 17 Energy/Water bill, which will be the first of the twelve appropriations bills to be considered for FY 17. We expect the Labor-HHS-Ed bill to be considered later in the summer.

The House

Turning to the other side of Congress, the House of Representatives has yet to pass a budget resolution. By law, Congress is supposed to pass a joint budget by April 15, which is now long past the deadline due to unsuccessful attempts by House Republican Leadership to garner enough votes within their party. Regardless, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) has made it clear that he is open to bringing appropriations bills to the floor even if the House never passes a budget.

NAfME will continue to monitor the situation closely; stay tuned for the latest updates on the budget and appropriations process for FY 17. In addition, members of NAfME’s policy staff continue to participate in high level meetings with key-appropriators urging them to support full funding for ESSA well-rounded programs that will serve positive impact in increasing the access of music education.

Ronny Lau, Legislative Policy Advisor, Center for Advocacy, Policy, and Constituency Engagement, April 15, 2016. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)