Week Ending August 2, 2019

Congress Ready for August Recess; To Return Sept. 9

  • Legislation Lifting Budget Caps Passes Congress
  • Funding for Mental Health Clinics Goes to President

Legislation Lifting Budget Caps Passes Congress

Following an agreement last week between congressional leaders and the White House on a budget deal for the 2020 and 2021 fiscal years, the House and the Senate have each voted to approve the legislation. The bill now heads to the president’s desk for his signature. The agreement will increase spending on nondefense discretionary programs from $597 billion in 2019 to $621.5 billion in 2020 and $626.5 billion in 2021. 

  • AFSCME Jobs Supported: Federal discretionary spending supports AFSCME jobs in many different fields, including education, social services, transportation and other critical public services. In recent years, this funding has failed to keep pace with inflation or the needs of our growing population. AFSCME members who have dedicated their careers to public service are seeing their neighbors struggle and their communities suffer.
  • Deal is Step in the Right Direction: That is why AFSCME has fought for an increase in federal nondefense discretionary spending and is supporting the deal reached by congressional leaders and the White House. While the increases are not as large as AFSCME requested, they represent a positive first step in strengthening the public services that our communities rely on.

What You Need to Know: Now that Congress has approved legislation determining the total level of spending, it still needs to pass the annual spending bills that will determine exactly how much money goes to each specific federal program. AFSCME will be fighting to ensure that the programs most important to supporting the work of AFSCME members receive a fair share of federal funds.

Funding for Mental Health Clinics Goes to President

In an important move for AFSCME behavioral health workers, both the House and the Senate passed a short-term extension of the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration program through Sept. 13, funded by an extra $60 million.  The bill, a Senate version of H.R. 3253, now goes to the president for his signature.

  • Assists Individuals with Disabilities: It extends the “Money Follows the Person” program, which assists individuals with disabilities to transition into home- and community-based services. 
  • Protects Spouses from Impoverishment:  It also extends through Dec. 31 a provision that protects spouses from impoverishment when the other spouse receives Medicaid home- and community-based services.

What You Need to Know: Funding for services provided by AFSCME members at Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics lapsed and will now be restored. This September, AFSCME will continue to press Congress to extend funding for the CCBHC program for two years.

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