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Capitol Correspondence - 07.24.17

House Releases 2018 Budget Plan with Deep Entitlement Cuts

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On July 18, the House Budget Committee unveiled its FY2018 Budget, featuring deep cuts to entitlement programs including Medicaid and Medicare. It assumes the passage of health care reform by congress, instituting per capita caps or block grants in Medicaid. The budget plan does not include a detailed breakdown on how specific programs within Medicaid would be impacted, there would be $4.4 trillion cut over ten years from Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP, and other income and education assistance programs. Overall, it would cut approximately $1.5 trillion from Medicaid programs, $487 billion from Medicare, and $4 billion from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). 
The budget plan provides a general overview of parameters that House committees then work to determine the details of appropriations.On July 12, the House Appropriations Committee released its draft fiscal year 2018 funding bill for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. The bill overall reduces funding in these areas by $5 billion under the funding level enacted for 2017. It cuts Department of Labor funding by a net of $1.3 billion, including cuts to the Employment Training Administration ($1.5 billion decrease) and Job Corps ($16 million decrease). The House Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee took up a bill on HUD and USDA programs, which included cuts to housing assistance programs that the National Low Income Housing Coalition estimated would result in the loss of 140,000 housing vouchers. 
The budget plan has not been enacted as a budget, and in fact, Congress has not been able to pass a budget that the President will sign into law for the past seven years, leaving funding to be appropriated through a long series of continuing resolutions, short term funding bills to keep the government running. A 2017 budget has not been passed to date, as it is currently tied up with the health care reform bill. Moving ahead to FY 2018, it is unclear whether this budget plan will come to fruition, or whether it will be more of the same continuing resolutions that DC has become accustomed to. Whether or not this plan results in a formal budget, it is important because it sets forth the House’s priorities regarding budget policy.