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  • Washington Highlights

    House FY 2018 Budget Resolution Inches Forward As Appropriators Forge Ahead

    Tannaz Rasouli, Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach

    The House Budget Committee July 19 approved an FY 2018 budget resolution that includes reconciliation instructions for 11 House committees to achieve $203 billion in mandatory savings, and increases defense spending above the Budget Control Act sequestration caps.

    The budget framework, which does not hold the force of law, assumes enactment of the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA, H.R. 1628) to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and calls for additional reforms, including a Medicare “premium support” system and additional Medicaid reforms beyond the AHCA.

    By Oct. 6, 2017, the budget resolution directs the Energy and Commerce Committee to identify $20 billion in savings between 2018-2027, and tasks the Ways and Means Committee with finding $52 billion in cuts over the same period.

    Among several “policy statements” in the resolution, the budget acknowledges the U.S.’s leadership in biomedical innovation and stipulates that “the House should continue to support the critical work of medical innovators throughout the country through continued funding for agencies, including the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to conduct life-saving research and development,” while also facilitating private-sector efforts by “removing regulatory obstacles that impede the adoption of new medical technology and pharmaceuticals.”

    The budget blueprint sets the overall FY 2018 discretionary spending total at $1.132 trillion, including $511 billion for nondefense spending and $621.5 billion for defense – a $72.5 billion boost over the defense cap enacted in the Budget Control Act.

    House appropriators, however, have already completed committee-consideration of the 12 spending bills, and July 19 voted to formalize the interim allocations each of the subcommittees has used for their spending bills in the absence of a House-approved budget resolution. The discretionary total adopted by the House Appropriations Committee aligns with the $1.132 trillion in the House Budget Committee mark.

    While the House had been aiming to bring all 12 bills to the House floor as an omnibus before the August recess, House leaders now plan to combine four of the spending bills into a “national security package” that will include the Defense, Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction/Veterans’ Affairs bills.

    House Appropriations Chair Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) indicated in a July 18 statement that he is “committed to getting these security bills, as well as every single one of the remaining eight Appropriations bills, through the legislative process and to the President’s desk.”

    Meanwhile, Senate appropriators approved their FY 2018 allocations, keeping overall discretionary funding at the FY 2017 level of $1.07 trillion, including the current split between defense ($551 billion) and nondefense ($518.5 billion) funding. Like the House levels, those funding levels exceed the statutory Budget Control Act caps, however.

    Within the total, a committee-prepared summary indicates that the committee provides $164 billion for the Labor-HHS-Education spending bill, $3 billion more than the FY 2017 level, and $5 billion more than the Labor-HHS-Education spending bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee (see related story).