Congressional Leaders Reach Two Year Budget Deal

Update (2/9/2018): After shutting down for five and a half hours, Congress passed their budget agreement early Friday morning. 

The agreement not only lifts the sequester caps, as mentioned below, but also keeps agencies open until March 23, giving time for Congress to negotiate an omnibus to close FY 2018 discussions.

Congressional leaders have announced that they have reached a bipartisan budget agreement. 

The budget deal eliminates sequestration cuts and raises both defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending caps for two years, paving the way for Congress to finally craft a full-year omnibus appropriations bill for FY 2018. Under the agreement, the deal allows for a total of $131 billion in additional NDD spending for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, and $165 billion more in additional defense spending. The increase in NDD spending is paramount in this agreement, as many key-education programs that affect our community fall under as a discretionary program.

The table below breaks down the increases by year:

Additional NDD Spending By Year


FY 2018

FY 2019


Sequester Cap Eliminated

$37.0 B

$37.0 B


Cap Raised Further

$26.0 B

$31.0 B


Total Additional Spending

$63.0 B

$68.0 B

Total: $131.0 B


A Win for Music Education

Throughout negotiations for FY 2018, appropriators have recognized the inability to make the necessary federal investments in domestic programs under the sequester spending caps. By eliminating those caps and raising spending limits even further, Congress now has the wiggle room to properly fund key-education programs, including the ESSA’s well-rounded programs.

Demonstrated in our FY 2018 Appropriations Agenda, NAfME has been in the forefront of appropriations discussions, asking Congress to raise the spending caps to provide robust funding for key well-rounded programs. Throughout the process, NAfME participated in high-level discussions with appropriators and led several grassroots advocacy campaigns with the Title IV-A Coalition, successfully reaching 1.6 million people with our “raise the caps” message in the fall and winter of 2017. 

What’s Next?

Unfortunately, we are not quite at the finish line yet for FY 2018. The government’s latest stopgap funding measure is set to expire on Thursday, February 8.  Despite coming to a budget agreement, Congress will still need to pass another continuing resolution to gain additional time for crafting an omnibus under the higher caps. 

More than ever is it important to advocate for the proper funding of Title I-A, Title II-A, and Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Now that the caps are raised, these programs must receive robust funding to:

  1. Provide students access to a well-rounded education, which includes music.
  2. Provide our music educators with the critical resources they require and deserve.

By all accounts, the budget deal is a win for the music education community and we hope Congress finishes the process strong by appropriating proper funds to essential well-rounded education programs. NAfME will continue to monitor and be involved with the concluding process. We will update our members as needed, including the possibility of grassroots advocacy opportunities.

Ronny Lau, Public Policy Advisor, February 7, 2018. © National Association for Music Education (