Congress Approves FY 2017 Continuing Resolution; Funds Federal Government through April

By Kermit Kaleba, December 12, 2016

In their last major legislative act before adjourning for the holidays, Congress completed work on a “continuing resolution” (CR) that extends Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 funding for the federal government through April 28. The CR largely extends funding for federal programs – including key workforce investments under the Departments of Labor and Education – at current FY 2016 levels, although it does include an across-the-board cut of 0.19 percent to keep overall spending within statutory budget caps. The CR also includes language extending authorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) through the end of April.

The current CR was necessary because the existing funding deal had been set to expire on December 9th. While some Congressional leaders had expressed interest in completing the FY 2017 appropriations process through an omnibus spending package before leaving town, the incoming Trump administration requested the temporary extension to allow the President-elect to weigh in on final levels. Mr. Trump has signaled an interest in increasing military spending, but doing so would likely require cuts to non-defense programs to stay within approved budget levels, and Congressional Democrats have expressed opposition to any changes in the balance between defense and non-defense spending.

The decision to delay final spending decisions until next April creates significant uncertainty for states and local stakeholders as they plan for the remainder of the fiscal year, including activities to implement the requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). It also creates potential challenges for lawmakers, who will need to begin the FY 2018 budget and appropriations process by early spring, but will do so without knowing ultimate funding levels for FY 2017.

National Skills Coalition strongly opposes cuts to already underfunded education and workforce programs, and submitted a letter to Congressional appropriators in November – joined by nearly 250 local, state, and national organizations – urging them to ensure adequate funding for these critical investments in skills. As we head into a new Administration and a new Congress, we will continue to fight for sustained federal funding to ensure that all workers and all industries have the skills to compete in today’s economy.