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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Independent Living Level Funded in 2017 – Initiate Contact with Your Senators and Representatives Now to Avoid Future Cuts!

Last Friday President Trump signed the $1.1 trillion spending bill (PDF) that was passed by the House and Senate earlier in the week. The passage of this omnibus spending bill keeps the government funded through the remainder of FY 2017, which ends on September 30, 2017.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingGiven the recommendations from the Administration to make significant cuts, we were surprised to see that many of the programs and departments important to the disability community were level-funded, and some even received small increases. Our main funding focus, the Independent Living Program, received $101,183,000, which includes $22,878,000 in Part B funding and $78,305,000 in Part C funding. This is level funding from FY 2016 spending levels and is actually a very slight increase from the first part of FY 2017 due to the .19% across-the-board cut in the December Continuing Resolution (CR).

In addition to the Independent Living Program, there are several other funding levels to take note of. Several Departments received increases, including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): a $2.7 billion increase for a total of $77.7 billion, the Department of Transportation (DOT): a $681 million increase for a total of $19.3 billion, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): a $513 million increase for a total of $38.8 billion. The Administration for Community Living (ACL) received a $1.2 million increase (for a total of $1.9 billion), with the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) being level funded at $104 million and the Assistive Technology Act also being level funding at $32 million; however, $2 million was allocated toward grants for Alternative Financing Programs for assistive technology devices. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) received a $130.6 million increase (for a total of $3.6 billion). While HUD received an increase overall, Section 811 Housing for people with disabilities received a decrease of $4.4 million (for a total of $146.2 million); this was one of only a small number of HUD programs to receive a cut. And other Departments received decreases, including the Department of Labor (DOL): an $83 million decrease for a total of $12.1 billion and the Department of Education (ED): a $1.2 billion decrease for a total $68 billion. However, while funding for ED overall decreased, funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was increased by $90 million (for a total of $12 billion).

Now that the FY 2017 funding is finalized, Congress will begin to turn their attention to FY 2018. As a reminder, all we’ve seen from President Trump is the “skinny budget” (PDF) he released in March, which outlined some of his priorities. While there has been criticism on both sides of the aisle, we know that Congress hopes to make major cuts.

Level funding does not meet our needs, but right now our focus must be on fighting against any cuts that will negatively impact the Independent Living Program. Please continue talking with your members of Congress. Please continue trying to get them to visit your CIL over the recess. It is on us to make sure that our Senators and Representatives know how important Independent Living is to their constituents with disabilities. Only by hearing directly from their constituents will they understand the vital need for funding and the incredible value of the IL Program!

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