Congress Passes Year-End Package with COVID Relief and FY 2021 Appropriations
Before leaving for the holidays, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, a package that would provide an immediate and essential downpayment on nutrition and other critical assistance for tens of millions of people across the country whose lives have been upended by the pandemic. The relief package boosts the SNAP maximum benefit by 15 percent for six months (through June 30, 2021), among other nutrition and anti-poverty provisions. Check out FRAC’s statement for more information, as well as the Congressional division-by-division summaries of the COVID relief provisions, appropriations provisions, and authorizing matters of the package. As of December 22, it is unclear if the President will sign the bill in its current form or if additional action will be needed by Congress.
Senate Releases Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Appropriations Bills
On November 10, the Senate Appropriations Committee released drafts of its 12 FY 2021 appropriations bills. While the House has passed 10 of its 12 FY 2021 appropriations bills, including agriculture, the Senate has not passed any of its bills. Government funding is currently operating under a continuing resolution, H.R. 8337, that expires on December 11. Check out the Senate FY 2021 agriculture appropriations bill text, explanatory statement, and highlights from the committee, and the Congressional Research Service’s Appropriations Status Table.
CR That Takes Important Steps to Address Childhood Hunger is Signed Into Law
On September 30, the Senate passed and the President signed into law H.R.8337, a continuing resolution (CR) that will carry government programs at FY 2020 funding levels until December 11. It was passed by the House of Representatives on September 22. The CR included provisions that will go a long way in addressing childhood hunger, including strengthening and expanding Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) through fiscal year 2021; extending the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) authority to issue child nutrition waivers and extend WIC administrative waivers through Fiscal Year 2021; and providing state SNAP agencies with needed flexibilities to adjust operations during COVID-19 without prior USDA approval. See FRAC’s statement and this section-by-section summary from the House Appropriations Committee for more information.”
While the CR’s temporary investments are an important step for children who are learning remotely or in a hybrid learning model or in child care, millions of families are still struggling. We urge Congress to address quickly overall household hunger and economic turmoil through a longer-term comprehensive COVID-19 relief package that includes benefit boosts to SNAP and makes investments in other critical programs that assist people in meeting their basic needs during COVID-19. Check out FRAC’s COVID-19 Actions page for more information.
FY 2021 Agriculture Appropriations Update
On July 24, on a vote of 224 to 189, the House passed its fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations “minibus” (H.R. 7608) that includes the Agriculture-FDA, State-Foreign Operations, Interior-Environment, and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs spending bills. Check out FRAC’s analysis of the agriculture appropriations bill and the bill, committee summary, and report.
President’s FY 2021 Budget Would Increase Hunger and Poverty in America
On February 10, the president released his proposed FY 2021 budget. The budget recycles many of the harmful policy proposals in the administration’s previous budgets, including deep cuts to federal safety net programs. The budget would cut SNAP benefits by more than $180 billion over 10 years, including by reprising the widely ridiculed “America’s Harvest Box.” These proposed deep cuts to SNAP are on top of the billions of dollars in ten-year SNAP benefit cuts that the administration is seeking via rule makings. The budget would also cut school meals by $1.7 billion over 10 years by reducing the number of schools eligible to implement the Community Eligibility Provision and by changing the process for verifying school meal applications, which would result in eligible students losing access to free and reduced-price school meals. Read FRAC’s statement and detailed analysis of the president’s proposed budget.
FY 2020 Agriculture Appropriations Updates
On December 20, 2019, the president signed into law a two-part FY 2020 spending bill deal: H.R. 1865 an eight-bill non-defense package which includes agriculture, and H.R. 1158, a four-bill defense package. For an overview of the FY 2020 appropriations process, visit the Congressional Research Service’s appropriations status table.
Budget Deal Clears Congress
On August 1, the Senate passed H.R. 3877 – Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 on a 67 to 28 vote. The president signed the bill on August 2. H.R. 3877 will: increase non-defense discretionary spending by $27 billion and defense discretionary spending by $22 billion in FY 2020; and avert automatic cuts (aka “sequestration”) to discretionary program cuts mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act, which will expire in 2021. Now that top-line spending levels are set, Senate appropriators will work on bipartisan spending bills before the federal-fiscal-year-end deadline of September 30. The House has passed 10 of its 12 FY 2020 spending bills and has approved its remaining two bills in committee.
President Signs Disaster Relief Bill into Law
On June 6, after months of stalled negotiations, the President signed into law the disaster relief package H.R. 2157 (now Public Law 116-20), which will provide much-needed relief to areas impacted by recent natural disasters, including U.S territories. The package contains an additional $600 million for Puerto Rico’s Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP — Puerto Rico’s block granted version of SNAP).
Explore These Topics
- FY 2020 AppropriationsAnnual funding for federal nutrition programs is provided through the agriculture appropriations bill. The agriculture appropriations bill is one of 12 appropriations (spending) bills that the House and Senate pass each year to keep government programs funded.
On December 20, after two continuing resolutions, the president signed into law a two-part FY 2020 spending bill deal: H.R. 1865, an eight-bill non-defense package which includes agriculture, and H.R. 1158, a four-bill defense package. The spending package will fund federal government operations through September 30.
For an overview of the FY 2020 appropriations process, visit the Congressional Research Service’s appropriations status table.
- FY 2020 Budget
Congress is not expected to take up a FY 2020 Budget Resolution this year. Although the Senate Budget Committee approved an FY 2020 Budget Resolution on March 28, it is not expected to move to the Senate floor, and the House is not expected to pass a Budget Resolution. Instead, Congress is expected to work on a budget caps deal, which Congress and the President must reach to avert deep cuts to non-defense and defense discretionary programs in FY 2020 and 2021 due to automatic cuts mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act and tight funding limits.
On April 3, the House Budget Committee approved H.R. 2021, the Investing for the People Act of 2019, which would raise budget caps for non-defense and defense discretionary (annual) funding in FY 2020 and 2021. The bill would increase non-defense spending to $631 billion for FY 2020 and $646 billion for FY 2021 and would increase defense spending to $733 billion for FY 2020 and $749 billion for FY 2021 (including Overseas Contingency Operations funding). The bill could move to the House floor as early as the week of April 8.
For more on the importance of increased funding caps for non-defense discretionary programs, check out the Coalition on Human Needs’ report that outlines how funding for human needs programs has eroded from FY 2010 to FY 2019.
On March 11 and March 18, President Trump released his top-line and detailed fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget proposals, respectively, which recycle many of the harmful proposals in the President’s previous budgets. The budget includes deep cuts to SNAP, child nutrition programs, afterschool programs, Medicaid, housing assistance, and other crucial programs for low- and moderate-income people.
- FRAC’s statement and analysis of the proposed budget
- Coalition on Human Needs’ “The Trump Budget: What You Need to Know” webinar recording (March 14). Speakers include Sharon Parrott, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Deborah Weinstein, Coalition on Human Needs; and Ellen Teller, FRAC.
Check out FRAC’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget and Appropriations Priorities.
- FY 2019 AppropriationsAnnual funding for federal nutrition programs is provided through the agriculture appropriations bill. The agriculture appropriations bill is one of 12 appropriations (spending) bills that the House and Senate pass each year to keep government programs funded.
On February 14, after months of continuing resolutions and a 35-day partial government shutdown, the House and Senate passed a bill (H.J.Res.31) to fund federal government operations through September 30. The President signed it into law on February 15.
On June 6, after months of stalled negotiations, the President signed into law the disaster relief package H.R. 2157 (now Public Law 116-20), which will provide much-needed relief to areas impacted by recent natural disasters, including U.S territories. The package contains an additional $600 million for Puerto Rico’s Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP—Puerto Rico’s block granted version of SNAP).
- FY 2019 BudgetOn Monday, February 12, President Trump released his FY 2019 budget proposal. One key component: devastating proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that reflect a total disregard of the critical role SNAP plays as a first line of defense against hunger and poverty for tens of millions of Americans. Check out a statement from FRAC President Jim Weill. For a summary of proposed reductions to SNAP and an overview of how other critical nutrition and social safety net programs fare in the president’s budget, check out FRAC’s newly released analysis (pdf).
- Refundable Tax CreditsThe Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) are two of the federal government’s more effective methods in which to lift individuals and families out of poverty. In 2017, the EITC and CTC together lifted about 8.9 million people above the poverty line, including 4.8 million children. Both of these tax credits are refundable, meaning that they can reduce a filer’s tax burden to zero and any remaining amount is treated as a direct refund to the filer.
Income thresholds for the EITC are dictated by marital status and number of children. The amount of the EITC depends on the filer’s income, the number of children, and marital status. In 2019, the EITC is worth a maximum of $6,557, but the EITC for childless workers is worth only $529.
The CTC is worth up to $2,000 per child, and is partially refundable, up to a maximum of $1,400 in 2019.
The EITC and CTC are critical anti-poverty programs and should be expanded. The Working Families Tax Relief Act, introduced on April 10, 2019 by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Ron Wyden (D-OR), would substantially expand the EITC and the CTC, bolstering the economic security of 46 million households.
Did You Know?
Every year, Congress is supposed to follow a similar schedule of events throughout the budget and appropriations process. However, in recent years, this process has not always been followed — but the general schedule remains the same.