NAICU Washington Update

Congress Avoids Government Shutdown

September 30, 2016

After a month of wrangling over details, Congress avoided a government shutdown by passing a continuing resolution (CR) two days before the end of the fiscal year. With bipartisan support from both chambers – a vote of 72 to 26 in the Senate and 342 to 85 in the House – the bill passed and was sent to the White House on September 28.

The CR keeps the government running through December 9, at current funding levels, with an across the board cut of .496 percent. This trim keeps the legislation from breaking the nondefense discretionary cap set in the 2015 budget deal.

Student aid funding will be finalized during the post-election lame duck session. This is usually not a problem, as education programs are forward funded, meaning funds are not disbursed until July 1 of the following calendar year. However, the implementation of the October 1 FAFSA and use of prior-prior year before final appropriations are done, could complicate early financial aid applications.

The White House announced it will publish the Pell Tables (Pell Grants are expected to be increased to $5,920) for next year earlier than usual to assist states and institutions in implementing financial aid awards earlier.

The agreement also includes emergency funding of $1.1 billion for Zika virus eradication, and $500 million for disaster relief from flooding in Louisiana, which were deal-breakers for Democrats. While funding for the Flint, Michigan water crisis, the other big issue for Democrats, is not included in the bill, they have leadership assurances that funding will be provided in the FY 2017 Energy and Water Appropriations bill before the end of the year.

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