Early this morning, Congress finalized a two-year budget agreement covering FY 2018 and FY 2019. This agreement establishes spending allocations for upcoming Appropriations bills, including the Labor-HHS bill that funds the LIHEAP program.
The deal is fundamentally good news for LIHEAP. Many speculated that Congress would look to offset lost revenue due to the recent tax cuts by shrinking domestic spending, including programs like LIHEAP. Instead, this agreement dramatically increases domestic spending, thus increasing the Labor HHS allocation and taking significant pressure off of Appropriators to look for cuts in the Labor HHS funding pool.
To be clear, this bill does not determine LIHEAP funding levels for FY 2018 and FY 2019. Congress will now aim to finalize FY 2018 spending by a new deadline of March 23. LIHEAP has already received 90% of its projected allocation and the final FY 2018 number will be determined in these final negotiations. We feel confident that the program will be flat funded at the same level as FY 2017. After Congress resolves FY 2018 funding, it will immediately begin planning for FY 2019 funding. Our field will have to again press Appropriators to increase LIHEAP investment while, in the worst case, holding off any cuts.
Next Monday, the White House is scheduled to submit its FY 2019 budget request. While the overall budget is moot due to the passage of the two-year budget deal, its proposal will send important signals to Congress regarding the Administration's funding priorities at a program level. We are hopeful that the White House will request level funding for LIHEAP, although we recognize that it may repeat last year's call to eliminate the program. Again, the White House budget request is mostly important at a symbolic level and Congress will determine LIHEAP funding levels.
The Campaign will issue a statement in response to the White House's announcement on Monday. In the interim, please let us know if you have questions about the impact of the budget deal or anything else related to the process moving forward.