After a late start caused by the delayed completion of the fiscal year 2017 spending process, congressional appropriators have begun moving fiscal year 2018 funding bills, including the Labor-HHS-Education measure that covers the National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP). The House version of the bill would cut NFJP by roughly $10 million to $72 million from the fiscal year 2017 level-funded amount of $82 million. Approved by subcommittee, the measure awaits full Appropriations Committee consideration. The Senate has not yet released its fiscal year 2018 legislation. The president earlier this year recommended to Congress that it terminate NFJP entirely.
Looking at the big picture, the House recently passed a fiscal year 2018 “minibus” appropriations measure that includes $658 billion for national defense, though the topline exceeds the spending cap set by the 2011 Budget Control Act by $72 billion.The bill would fund the Defense Department’s base budget at $584 billion and its Overseas Contingency Operations account at $74 billion. The base budget funding is $68 billion above what was enacted in fiscal year 2017 and $18 billion more than what the Trump Administration sought for fiscal year 2018.
The Senate Appropriations Committee announced recently, however, that it is writing a defense spending bill that, unlike the House version, adheres to the BCA in the hopes of hashing out a bipartisan deal to raise the caps. Such an agreement, like past agreements, could provide much-needed cap relief for non-defense discretionary program funding. Should that occur, NFJP will be in a much stronger position to win the appropriations it needs to continue providing the nation’s struggling agricultural workers the hand up they need to help themselves going forward.