Congress Clears First Group of Appropriations Bills for Fiscal Year 2012

Yesterday a bill providing $182 billion in funding for five Cabinet-level agencies passed Congress, marking the first tangible progress in the Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations process.  This funding level is in line with the spending caps put into place by the Budget Control Act, which passed in August.  The legislation, encompassing the traditional Commerce-Justice-Science, Agriculture, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development bills, passed the House by a 298-121 vote and the Senate by a 70-30 vote.

Among the federal programs that support vulnerable children and families that CWLA tracks, there were mixed results.  Homeless assistance programs were preserved and $250 million was set aside for homelessness prevention for families.  The food stamp and child nutrition programs were funded at levels that should meet expected demand.  The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which provides nutrition assistance to low-income mothers, received a slight cut from 2011 levels, but was spared from some of the harsher cuts proposed by the House.  However juvenile justice programs were cut once again, receiving a combined $263 million.

Finally, a continuing resolution (CR) keeping the government running through December 16, 2011 was included in the bill to buy more time for negotiations on the remaining appropriations work and to prevent any government shutdown.  The bill is expected to be signed into law by the President today.

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