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*Omnibus Appropriations Bill Summary*: Surprising Funding Updates on EIH Programs!

by Lindsay Torrico, MPP / Director of Policy and Advocacy / United Way Worldwide

Dear Colleagues,

This week, Congress passed a $1.012 trillion omnibus spending package that would fund all government operations through September 30, 2014. The measure moves next to the President for his signature. Please see below for a summary of what the spending bill means for United Way priorities.

 Overall, we are encouraged that Congress is reinvesting in the programs that strengthen families and communities in need. We still have a long way to go to ensure that all Americans have access to opportunity but there’s cause to feel extremely positive about the Appropriations package. Working together YOU have all done an impressive job in raising the profile of our education, income, and health (EIH) priorities! Thank you for all you've done the last few years (in the face of a very challenging and contentious political environment, sequestration cuts, and a government shutdown) to relentlessly send the message that investing in our families and communities is paramount to our nation's future. 

Surprising News
As you may have seen in the news articles about the spending bill, early learning was the big winner in the appropriations package! Not only were the sequestration cuts (across-the-board spending cuts) to Head Start and other early childhood programs restored, but the Appropriations bill also included significant NEW funding for early learning. You are terrific advocates and your hard work has paid off! By advocating for early learning, you won major victories for children and families across the country. It is amazing to think about the many thousands of young children that will receive a slot in a high-quality early child care center as a result of your advocacy. This is WHY we ADVOCATE!

What’s Next
Next month, the President will submit to Congress his budget proposal for fiscal year 2015 and this appropriations process will begin again. So, buckle up for another ride! We look forward to working with you to ensure Congress continues to support education, income and health programs that help our most vulnerable communities. Stay tuned for information on the FY 2015 appropriations process!

  • Appropriations Summary:
    Education spending doesn’t quite catch up to pre-sequester levels - but it comes awfully close. The $67 billion in discretionary funding for education comes out roughly $811 million less than in the 2012 fiscal year.
  • A big increase for early childhood: Head Start would get $612 million above sequester levels. Appropriators expanded Early Head Start by $500 million, plus a Race to the Top set-aside for early learning.
  • Formula funding approaches pre-sequester spending: The bill would fund Title I at $14.3 billion, close to what it was before sequestration. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) would fare similarly well.
  • A different story for competitive grants: Race to the Top funding would be sliced to $250 million, with all the money going to early learning. And the School Improvement Grant program would be stuck with its sequester figure: $505 million.
  • Increases all around for higher education: The maximum Pell Grant would increase to $5,730. It also would require the Education Department to report on enrollment, graduation and default rates for Pell Grant recipients, disaggregated by institution.
  • The Full Service Community Schools program, which had not been funded after Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, was reinstated in the FY 2014 omnibus at $10 million. This is a real testament to not only the great community schools work happening on the ground, but also the collective advocacy and support you as our partners provide-so congratulations to all!
  • $80 million is allocated to Community Prevention Grants, a new initiative to prevent chronic diseases and reduce their impact by awarding three year grants to community coalitions that include businesses, schools, and non-profit organizations.
  • The bill funds the Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) at $6.716 billion, providing $125 million for the Contingency Fund, $60 million for breastfeeding peer counselors, $14 million for infrastructure funding, and $30 million for MIS/EBT.
  • The bill does not cut the Prevention and Public Health Fund, the nation’s largest source of dedicated prevention funding. Instead, the bill allocates $1 billion to the Fund in specific program accounts, under the Affordable Care Act. 
  • The bill includes $1.05 billion for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), and will restore some of the devastating cuts caused by sequestration.
    • The bill provides $120 Million for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP).
    • The Community Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Grant Program receives $12 Million.
    • The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) receives $3.149 Billion for grants to states for adult employment and training activities, youth activities, and dislocated worker employment and training activities, and $47.3 Million for the Workforce Innovation Fund.
    • It appropriates $2.105 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program, representing a $176 million increase over FY 2013 levels, and $19.1 billion for HUD's Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, also known as tenant-based rental assistance (TBRA), representing a $1.412 billion increase over FY 2013 levels.
    • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) receives $82.17 Billion.
    • It allocates $19.29 Billion to Child Nutrition Programs.
    • The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) receives $3.42 Billion.