Congress Passes Bipartisan Budget Act

2/09/2018 – The U.S. Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, a two-year budget bill that raises the debt limit, provides two years of relief from cuts to discretionary funding and provides short-term funding through March 23, ending a brief federal government shutdown. The budget deal raises defense and nondefense spending levels by nearly $300 billion for two years.

The Academy applauds the agreement, signed by the president, which contains increases to Academy-supported federal nutrition programs and public health, including emergency spending of $24 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program and $14 million for WIC clinics in areas impacted by hurricanes. The Bipartisan Budget Agreement also has provisions of the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act, which expanded supplemental benefits in Medicare Advantage to allow meal delivery for seniors with diabetes, arthritis and other chronic conditions.

As part of NDD United, an alliance of more than 2,000 national, state and local organizations working to protect investments in core government functions that benefit all Americans, the Academy has signed on to letters supporting the raising of the caps and served as reviewer for the document, "Faces of Austerity 2.0: How Budget Cuts Continue to Make Us Sicker, Poorer and Less Secure," which highlights federal programs that help ensure older Americans can eat healthful and nutritious meals.

This budget deal is just the first step in the spending process for the federal government. Congressional leadership and the House and Senate appropriations leaders will divvy up the $63 billion allocated across the various discretionary subcommittees, (i.e. the Labor, House and Human Services subcommittee and Agriculture subcommittee). These allocations are critical, as they will largely determine the fate of the individual agencies, programs, projects and activities that matter to Academy members. Congress then will vote on the omnibus spending bill for Fiscal Year 2018, before turning attention to the Fiscal Year 2019 budget. The president’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2019 is expected to be released next week, and congressional committees are holding several hearings on proposals that affect federal health and nutrition services.

The Academy calls on Congress to invest in federal nutrition programs and public health by supporting a strong allocation for health programs to restore cuts and secure increases. Prior to this budget deal, the allocation for Labor, Health and Human Services agencies was about $4 billion below current funding levels. Federal public health, nutrition and health research programs are critical to maintaining a healthy population.