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

Information Alert: Appropriations Update

Yesterday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee approved the FY 2017 Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education (L-HHS-ED) spending bill (PDF) that was marked up by the L-HHS-ED Subcommittee last week. The bill proposes a $1,652,000 increase for the Independent Living Program, for a total of $102,835,000. While this is a far cry from the $200 million we were asking for, it is still additional funding for CILs around the country! In an atmosphere of austerity, this increase is a huge win, and it is due to the persistent efforts of IL advocates all over the country.

We must keep up these advocacy efforts so that this increase will make it into the final FY 2017 legislation; particularly on the Senate side, where the IL program was level funded in their L-HHS-ED spending bill (PDF). The Senate Appropriations Committee approved their FY 2017 L-HHS-Ed spending bill in June.

Also notable in the House bill is the Administration for Community Living (ACL) language included in the bill report (PDF). Proposed funding for ACL is $11 million over the FY16 enacted level, for a total of just over $2 billion. In the report, the Committee addresses ACL’s plan to shift funds from program grants to support new staff and administrative capacity. It reads:

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent Living“The Committee understands ACL has proposed to expand the administrative capacity of grant programs by shifting funds from grants to support new staff. The Committee recognizes this additional capacity may enhance program oversight and performance. However, the Committee’s intent for appropriating these funds is to expand program dollars available for grants, not to expand ACL’s administrative capacity. The Committee is concerned about the programmatic impact a shift in funds will have on grantees. The Committee directs ACL to maintain the fiscal year 2015 funding for the grants for all programs, and where there were increases provided in fiscal year 2016, the Committee directs ACL to increase grants by the same amount. The Committee requests additional detail in the fiscal year 2018 budget request under each program for any proposed reduction in the amount for grants, including the amount of the reduction for grants and the increase proposed for administrative staff.”

While report language is not law, this very clear message from Congress directs ACL not to use program funding for administrative purposes!

Report language from the Senate (PDF), while not as strong, also addresses this issue. It reads:

“The Committee understands that ACL has proposed to expand the administrative capacity of the formula grant programs by transferring up to 2 percent from the State grants to support new staff. The Committee recognizes that this additional capacity may enhance program oversight and performance. However, the Committee is concerned about the disproportionate impact the transfer may have on grantees in the smaller formula programs, particularly those authorized under the Development Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act. The Committee urges ACL to more thoughtfully examine the impact of the proposed transfer on the smaller programs before taking further action.”

While the Senate’s report language is not nearly as strong, it shows that they are still aware of our concerns and are requesting that ACL be more thoughtful with their use of funds for administrative costs.

Both of these bills have passed out of Committee, but none of the 12 annual spending bills have passed out of Congress. Since Congress will be on recess in August (and they will not be in session during the national conventions the last two weeks of July), there is a fairly small likelihood of passing all 12 bills before the 2016 fiscal year ends on September 30, 2016. This means that a continuing resolution (CR) is likely. We will keep you updated as we get more information!

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