2011 Budget Agreement Could Diminish FY 18 Funding Levels

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In 2011, Congress enacted the Budget Control Act that placed statutory caps on defense and domestic spending for the next ten fiscal years.  For the past two fiscal years, Congress has given itself “permission” to exceed the caps without penalty.  It remains to be seen whether such an action is possible for FY 18.

At present, both House and Senate funding projections for FY 18 exceed the statutory caps. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is the final arbiter on what constitutes breaking the caps.  For FY 18, they have reported that the defense cap is $549 billion and the cap for nondefense spending is $515.7 billion.

So far, for FY 18, the House has marked up all 12 of its funding bills and has passed four of them as a “minibus.”  The remaining eight bills are expected to be rolled together and coupled with the minibus legislation.  This new omnibus package is expected to see Floor action shortly after Labor Day.  At present, it has been reported that the House bills exceed the statutory defense cap by $72 billion.

In the Senate, the Appropriations Committee has marked up six of its 12 funding bills and work is expected to continue at a faster pace once Senators return from the summer recess.  While none of the bills have been taken up on the Senate Floor, number crunchers are expecting that Senate funding would break the statutory caps for defense by around $2 billion and nondefense by $3.8 billion.

Congress will have to face hard choices in September.  Should they give themselves another “pass” and let funding exceed the statutory caps or should they exercise some fiscal self-restraint and stay within the budgetary maximums?  For state drinking water programs, the resolution of this conundrum will have a direct impact on their ability to implement the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act.