Congress OK’s FY17 spending bill without Trump-proposed cuts

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On May 5, President Donald Trump signed a $1.2 trillion omnibus spending plan to keep the government operating through Sept. 30.
 
The bipartisan bill does not make most of the spending cuts – strongly opposed by municipal groups nationwide – proposed by the Trump administration.
 
The spending plan also does not include funding for the president’s proposed border wall, nor does it include language to penalize so-called “sanctuary cities.”
 
The spending plan level-funds several programs important to municipal governments, particularly the Community Development Block Grant program, which was level-funded at $6 billion. Over the last six years, 44 percent of the eligible communities in Massachusetts have received CDBG grants of some kind, worth a total of $237 million.
 
The budget also maintained the HOME program, homelessness assistance grants, and federal disaster relief at fiscal 2016 funding levels.
 
On transportation issues, the budget reauthorizes the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (recapitalizing the Highway Trust Fund at $44 billion) and provides small increases for the Federal Aviation Administration ($16.4 billion, a $164 million increase) and rail funding ($18.5 billion, up $163 million from previous funding levels).
 
Congress also resisted the administration’s call to slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by 30 percent, cutting it instead by 1 percent, which will preserve most brownfield and other cleanup funding.
 
Trump’s proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health, strongly opposed by Gov. Charlie Baker among others, were not implemented. Congress instead increased NIH funding by roughly $2 billion.
 
The spending bill level-funded the Low-Income Heating Assistance Program, federal weatherization assistance, and other programs.
 
The administration and Congress will now turn to the fiscal 2018 budget, and the administration has already indicated it will again seek the cuts it asked for in the spending plan passed in May.