1. Update
  2. Native Americans

UPDATED: Following the Money

May 9, 2017

More than 180 days late, Congress finally passed a spending bill for the current fiscal year – FY2017 – on May 5. Indian programs fared relatively well in this continuing resolution – better than many other domestic programs, but not as well as military programs.

THE EXCEPTION: Indian country will suffer along with most of America from the diminished support for access to health care embodied in H.R. 1628, which the House passed on Friday. (See Effects of Health Care Repeal in Indian Country for more on health care proposals.)

THE BACKSTORY: By last October 1, Congress was supposed to have passed 12 appropriations bills to allow the government to continue to spend money during this fiscal year, through programs that are already authorized, on the books, and functioning. Congress missed multiple target dates, until its final, final deadline – May 5.

At this point, the single spending bill that Congress passed was basically a continuing resolution (S.244). For the most part, this bill will continue spending for the last half of this fiscal year (which ends at the end of September, 2017) at approximately the same levels allowed for last year.

What this means for Indian country is

  • few if any programs that were already underfunded will receive an increase this year,
  • new initiatives ready for funding will probably not be able to identify a new source within the federal budget, and
  • most other existing programs will continue through September 30, 2017 with their current levels of funding. Though the President proposed, the Congress disposed of the idea of providing funding for a wall across the U.S. southern border.

Next steps on the budget include a Budget Resolution (general outline) for FY 2018, which begins on October 1, and then either 12 separate appropriations bills covering various federal departments, or one or more “omnibus” bills or “continuing resolutions” if Congress can’t agree on spending.

Watch for significant cuts to be proposed in all programs that serve low-income families and communities. One catalogue of possible cuts is included in H.R. 1469, a proposal by Rep. Davidson (OH-8) for a study commission to review and reduce all of these programs, including Indian Health Service, Indian Housing, and Indian job training programs. A description of the cuts proposed in the President’s FY 2018 budget was included in last month’s Native American Legislative Update.