Budget Deal Contains Some Good News

Early on the morning of December 16, U.S. Senate and House leaders released an omnibus budget agreement. The tax bill is expected to come to a vote in the House on Thursday, the 17th. The Senate is expected to combine the two pieces of legislation into a single vote, presumably on Friday, the 18th. See highlights on child nutrition and EITC programs below as provided by our allies at Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).

Omnibus Appropriations Act Highlights:

  • $6.350 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which is expected to support the anticipated caseload. This falls short of the $6.623 billion in the President’s FY2016 proposed budget, which was the same amount appropriated last year.
  • School Nutrition Standards: The omnibus maintains the language from prior appropriations legislation that allows waivers of the whole grain requirement and postpones full implementation of the sodium requirement.
  • $23 million for the summer EBT program, which is $11 million more than the House bill and $7 million more than the 2015 enacted level. Participation is not limited to certain communities as it was last year.

No CNR on Omnibus. Despite intense bipartisan efforts by Senate Agriculture Committee staff to attach a Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) bill onto the Omnibus, it is reported that at the last minute, House leadership rejected that effort. CNR is expected to be considered early next year under “regular order” with a markup in the Senate Agriculture Committee on a free-standing bill.

Tax Extender Highlights:

  • The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) improvements have been made permanent! Thanks in large part to advocates like you, these critical refundable tax credits for low and moderate-income working families that were slated to expire in 2017 have now been made permanent. The improvements in the small-in-amount EITC for low-income, childless workers were not included.
  • The Enhanced American Opportunity Tax Credit also has been made permanent.

Housing Highlights from our friends at National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), include:

  • National Housing Trust Fund – No NHTF funds were raided!!
  • HOME – Small increase of $50 million above FY15 level to $950M for FY16!!
  • Vouchers – Appears short on renewals by about $369 million; only new vouchers are VASH vouchers.
  • Homeless Assistance Grants – Increase over FY15’s $2.135B to $2.250B.
  • Project-Based Rental Assistance – Appears short on renewal funding by about $200 million.
  • Public Housing Operating and Capital Funds – Small increases for both!
  • Fair housing policy riders – None!
  • Moving to Work – Reduces the Senate’s proposed expansion from 300 to 100 agencies and adds research protocols, as well as some modest reforms.

To read a very thorough summary, go to:

Summary of FY16 Omnibus_0

Posted in Affordable Housing & Homelessness, Economic Justice, Food Security and tagged , , .