FY14 Appropriations Process Begins in Earnest
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FY14 Appropriations Process Begins in Earnest

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June 27, 2013

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The House and Senate have embarked on the fiscal year 2014 appropriations process with widely divergent funding totals.

Nowhere is this more apparent than allocations for the bill that funds the Older Americans Act (OAA) and other programs important to vulnerable seniors and their families, where there is a gulf of over $42.5 billion between the two chambers.

Earlier this year, the House and Senate adopted FY14 budget resolutions that varied greatly in terms of deficit reduction, total cuts, and revenues.

The House and Senate appropriations committees took these resolutions to heart in outlining their 12 annual appropriations bills.

The Senate is proceeding as if the sequester will be eliminated, while the House not only keeps the sequester, but also shifts funding to defense to protect it from cuts.

Funding for OAA Programs

One of the largest gulfs is between the allocations for the Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education appropriations bill, which funds the OAA, Senior Corps, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), and other community services for vulnerable Americans.

In the House, this bill would see the second largest cut, at over 18% less than current funding levels.

In the Senate, lawmakers would reverse the sequester and make some limited investments, making the Labor-HHS bill’s allocation $42.5 billion (26%) higher than the House.

Funding for Housing

There is also a $10 billion difference between House and Senate allocations for the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (HUD) bill.

The gap has resulted in a $20 million difference between amounts provided for Housing Counseling, which funds reverse mortgage counseling.

The Senate proposes a total of $55 million, which is a nearly $13 million increase and equal to President Obama’s request. The House cuts funding to $35 million.

Significant differences can also be seen in proposed funding for Section 202 Housing for the Elderly. The House bill provides $374.6 million, equal to the pre-sequester FY13 appropriation, while the Senate bill provides $400 million, an increase of more than $26 million over current funding.

What's Next and What You Can Do

The huge gaps between the two chambers' funding targets presents a nearly impossible hurdle to reaching agreement on final appropriations by the Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year. Even so, each committee continues to draft its respective bills.

The Senate Appropriations Committee expects to finish work on all 12 bills before the August recess, with plans to approve its Labor-HHS bill by July 11.

It’s unclear whether the House will take up some bills like Labor-HHS with drastically low allocations, which have no hope of passing and only serve as targets of intense criticism.

More than ever, your help is needed to educate elected officials and your community about the importance of OAA programs and the effect that the sequester’s cuts are having on seniors in your community.

Seize any opportunity to engage your elected officials while they are home this week, and make plans to invite them to visit some of your programs and meet the seniors you serve during the August recess.

Use our updated Federal Budget Advocacy Toolkit for new talking points and resources to make your voice heard!

 

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