Congressional Funding Discussions in Full Swing

​​When President Donald J. Trump submitted his “skinny budget” to Congress for Fiscal Year 2018, which threatened to cut the U.S. Department of Labor by 21%, totally eliminate OSHA’s Susan Harwood Training Grant Program, knock down the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services by 17.9%, (the parent entity for NIOSH), strike all funding for the Chemical Safety Board, and reduce funding for the EPA by 31%, many reacted with stern disapprobation, but few took the document seriously, finding refuge in the nearly unassailable truth that Congress typically relegates the President’s budget request to a series of talking points, and then proceeds to come up with their own numbers based upon their own calculations of politics and programmatic performance. While for the time being, past is once again proving to be prologue, changes to the funding levels of these agencies and programs are a possibility – and the threats to them cannot be ignored.

Right now Congress is finishing up work to fund the government through the rest of FY 2017. The current appropriations measure expires at the end of April, and several members of Congress have expressed opposition to another continuing resolution – instead preferring to pass “regular” funding bills, which will almost certainly be included within the wrapping of an omnibus Department of Defense ​Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017. Based upon bipartisan discussions and related correspondence, expect funding levels in these FY 2017 measures for OSHA, MSHA, and NIOSH to be in the same ballpark as they are now.

Shortly after the omnibus bill is enacted, Congressional staffers will turn their attention to FY 2018, which begins October 1. At this point, the funding levels in these bills look to be largely similar to FY 2017, but that could definitely change. Because there’s more time, the White House is expected to play a much larger role, which means significant funding cuts and other changes are a real possibility.​