After heated debate on both the House and Senate floor overnight, Congressional leaders have finally reached a long-sought agreement on topline spending that will pave the way to complete the FY 2018 federal appropriations and budget process. The bipartisan agreement establishes new spending levels for FY2018 and 2019, and temporarily extends federal funding until March 23 to avoid an additional federal government shutdown. Congress must now put together a larger omnibus spending package that will spell out allocation of funds for the U.S. Department of Education and other agencies through the remainder of the fiscal year.
Overall, the budget agreement will increase defense and domestic spending by roughly $300 billion for two years. The increase in the mandatory spending caps required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 will be split evenly between defense and non-defense discretionary programs. The agreement also fully repeals the 2011 sequestration caps over the next two years and secures an additional $57 billion in new non-defense spending above the caps. The compromise, however, includes specific spending commitments for disaster relief, including: support for schools serving displaced students ($90 billion); the opioid crisis ($6 billion); the Child Care and Development Block Grant ($5.8 billion); veterans hospitals and clinics ($4 billion); NIH research ($2 billion); infrastructure ($20 billion); and college affordability ($4 billion).
Again, despite the specific investments listed above that are part of the broader compromise, the current budget agreement does not complete the FY 2018 appropriations process or provide additional clarity around funding levels for key education programs. It does, however, provide appropriators with the information they need to complete the broader spending package over the coming weeks. NSBA will provide additional information as the omnibus is negotiated.