Statement: The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018
First Focus responded to today’s passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, which funds the government for the rest of Fiscal Year 2018 after 6 months of continuing resolutions and shutdown threats. A number of critical programs received renewed investments, and though there were some difficult tradeoffs, we are pleased the President signed this bill so that Congress can now turn its attention to key legislative priorities including a permanent solution for DACA recipients, stabilizing the healthcare marketplace, and fully funding Fiscal Year 2019 on time.
“This omnibus spending bill is an important step in the right direction to support our young people,” said Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus. “It upholds the Bipartisan Budget Agreement, which increased the cap for non-defense discretionary spending—which funds more than 130 children’s programs—by $63 billion.”
Beyond that, this omnibus allocates robust levels of funding for the Department of Education (including the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant and the McKinney Vento Act for homeless students), childcare for working families, incentives for adoption from foster care, child abuse prevention and treatment, combatting the opioid epidemic, and the decennial census, which desperately needs funds to ensure young children aren’t undercounted. Lesley adds:
“We are incredibly pleased to see that appropriators heard child advocates stressing the need to prioritize federal spending on children, who in 2017 received less than 8 percent of the federal budget in spite of being nearly a quarter of the population.”
While the spending measure represents positive progress, child advocates must remain vigilant in protecting children’s programs from harmful cuts—a threat that is intensified in the wake of December’s deficit-increasing tax bill and Congress’ persistently broken budget process.
“Every time Congress has passed a continuing resolution or brushed up against a shutdown, agencies have been unable to plan for the future and families have had to wait to see if important programs that they rely on would continue to operate,” said Michelle Dallafior, Senior Vice President for Budget and Tax Policy at First Focus.
It is time for us to reform our budget process so that it operates well, prioritizes investment in children, and leaves room in the legislative calendar for Congress to enact proactive policies that strengthen families across the nation.
First Focus will continue to analyze how children’s programs fare in the omnibus spending bill.