Today, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) shares a limited budget pie with agencies working to find cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, the federal investment in opioid treatment and prevention, and funding for childcare and public schools – to name a few.
The committee had $270 million less to work with than last year, which made decisions tremendously difficult. The Senate bill, which in the end was a bipartisan compromise, includes $1.03 billion for CNCS, a decrease of $65 million from last year’s enacted levels but a far cry from what some threatened – dramatic cuts or a possible elimination of the agency. That’s because of the intensive work the national service community has done to engage Members of Congress and recruit new champions for the federal investment over the last year.
There is some good news. The bill level funds all three AmeriCorps programs and all three Senior Corps programs. And it expands resources for state commissions, increasing funding by approximately $1 million. Thank you to all of you who called Senators Blunt and Murray’s offices, emailed your Senators, and/or sent Tweets and Facebook posts. Your voices were heard!
Unfortunately, the bill eliminates the Social Innovation Fund, cuts approximately $1 million from Innovation and Demonstration, and reduces funding for the National Service Trust by approximately $13 million – a recommendation included in the President’s FY17 budget. It is, however, important to note that CNCS believes it has sufficient funding in the Trust and the reduction should not have a negative impact on the number of AmeriCorps members in service this year.
As the appropriations process continues to unfold both in the Senate and, importantly, in the House of Representatives, we will once again be calling on you to make your voices heard so that Members of Congress will understand the critical function that national service plays in their communities. I hope you will stay with us in this fight.
Yours in Service,
Voices for National Service