Tuesday, October 11, 2022
Will Aging Programs Get a Happy Ending?
On September 30, just hours before the clock struck midnight, Congress delivered, and the President signed, a short-term funding bill to prevent the government from turning into a proverbial pumpkin and shutting down. The short-term funding bill, known as a Continuing Resolution (CR), will continue to fund the government at FY 2022 funding levels through December 16. There was little surprise that the bill passed as Congress usually finds it easier to compromise when they’re up against a deadline. This CR allows legislators to deflect final FY 2023 spending decisions until after the midterm elections.
Continuing Resolution Provisions
While the CR freezes most government spending at FY 2022 levels, the bill does include several other provisions:
- Provides $1 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to assist families with the costs of heating and cooling, and to help mitigate the effects of rising energy costs and extreme weather.
- Authorizes the U.S. Department of Transportation to extend the availability of funds awarded under its National Infrastructure Investment Grants program through FY 2023.
- Increases the cap on spending for the Social Security Administration’s administrative expenses to $13.6 billion, up from $13.2 billion.
- Provides $2 billion for HUD’s Community Development Block Grant to address unmet recovery needs in communities experiencing major disasters in 2021 and 2022.
- Extends funding through December 16 for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program
Without a magic wand, there is certainly no way to predict what the midterm elections will mean for the FY 2023 appropriations budget and beyond. If Democrats somehow manage to keep control of one or both chambers of Congress, they will do so by a slim margin. Under a Democratic majority, budget negotiations will likely resume almost immediately after the elections and, to secure support from Senate Republicans, the final bill is likely to be far more modest than the Democrats’ current proposals. If Republicans take control of one or both chambers of Congress, current predictions range from stalled negotiations to deep cuts to overall non-defense spending to a possible year-long CR.
What Does It Mean?
None of this bodes well for aging services. Because the current Democratic House and Senate budget proposals are just a starting point for negotiations, they will not survive the next stage intact. Therefore, it is essential for advocates to continue to push for the highest levels of FY 2023 funding for aging programs. The President’s budget, along with the House Appropriations Committee’s bill, best resemble aging advocate’s longtime advocacy requests. The Senate bill was less generous but still reflected an increase over FY 2022 levels for Older Americans Act funded services. In addition to advocating for these essential, long overdue spending levels, it is equally important to secure FY 2023 funding and advocate against a CR extension, or worse, a year-long CR which would constrain aging programs by relying on the disappointingly insufficient funding levels of FY 2022, especially as Illinois begins to deplete its infusion of COVID-19-relief funding.
Absent a fairy godmother, advocacy is critical. Over the next few months, service providers, older adults, and aging advocates must make our voices heard. Share the critical importance of aging programs and services, the mounting community needs, and the personal stories that help legislators see the value of supporting the highest possible FY 2023 funding levels. Visit AgeGuide’s Action Alert page to help you connect with your elected officials and stay tuned for more updates on this unpredictable midterm-election season!