Federal Government in Partial Shutdown; Major Nutrition Programs Funded for Time Being

See ongoing USDA updates.

On December 22, 2018, a partial government shutdown began, with several agencies, including USDA, still without an approved fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget. Under the leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the House has been working on a series of appropriations bills that would end the shutdown.

President Trump threatened to veto appropriations bills that do not contain funding for a border wall, and despite similar appropriations measures recently passing the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has signaled that the Senate would not take up any measure that the President would not sign.

For more information on the FY 2019 appropriations process, and a summary of the FY 2019 agriculture appropriations bills, see “FY 2019 Appropriations” below.

Also see selected state and organization resources on the shutdown and federal nutrition programs.

Latest Shutdown News

January 17 – 280 organizations, including Trust for America’s Health and FRAC, sent letters to Congress and the President urging them to reopen the government as soon as possible, noting that a prolonged shutdown will continue to put the health and safety of the nation’s residents at risk.

January 15 – FRAC posts information on Eligibility for Free or Reduced-Price School Meals During the Shutdown.

January 11 – 22 organizations, including 1,000 Days and FRAC, sent a letter to President Trump and Congressional Leadership urging them to end the partial government shutdown and reopen the government immediately to ensure uninterrupted funding for critical federal nutrition programs.

January 10 – In an effort to reopen USDA operations, the House passed, on a vote of 243 to 183, an FY 2019 Agriculture Appropriations bill (H.R. 265) that is similar to the FY 2019 agriculture appropriations bill that the Senate had passed in 2018. The House also passed additional standalone FY 2019 appropriations bills during the week of January 7 in an effort to reopen other agencies impacted by the shutdown.

January 8 – USDA announces plan to temporarily fund federal nutrition programs in the shutdown; SNAP and WIC will have sufficient funding for February; child nutrition programs (school meals, Summer Food, and CACFP) through March. States have until January 20 to request and implement the early issuance of SNAP benefits for February. Also updates memos to state agencies on the FY 2019 funding lapse.

Congresswoman DeLauro (CT-03) and 128 House Democrats cosigned a letter demanding Secretary Perdue outline USDA’s plans to address the government shutdown’s impact on SNAP. Perdue is legally required to instruct SNAP state agencies on how to distribute SNAP benefits if current funding levels are unable to cover full benefits during the shutdown.

January 7 – FRAC releases statement, Government Shutdown Threatens National Emergency for Millions of Hungry Households, which calls on the President and Congress “to open the government and stop the threat to the federal programs that meet the most basic needs of struggling Americans.”

Week of January 7 – The House plans to bring a standalone FY 2019 agriculture appropriations bill (H.R. 265)  to the floor, in addition to several other individual FY 2019 appropriations bills that have not yet been enacted into law.

Explore These Topics

  • FY 2019 Appropriations
    Annual funding for federal nutrition programs is provided through the agriculture appropriations bill. The agriculture appropriations bill is one of 12 appropriations (spending) bills that the House and Senate pass each year to keep government programs funded.

    In September, Congress worked on a series of appropriations packages (“minibuses”) to meet the September 30 fiscal year (FY) deadline and avoid a government shutdown. On September 13, Congress sent the first minibus, H.R. 5895, to the President for his signature. On September 18, the Senate passed (93-7) another minibus, H.R. 6157, and sent it to the House, where it was passed on September 26 (361-61) and sent to the President for signature. H.R. 6157 consists of FY 2019 funding for Defense and Labor/HHS/Education, plus a continuing resolution (CR) for all agencies that did not have an FY 2019 budget passed by October 1 — including the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The CR funded these programs at FY 2018 levels through December 7.

    On Friday, December 7, President Trump signed into law a two-week CR (H.J.Res. 143), passed by the House and Senate on December 6, that would carry agencies without an approved FY 2019 budget through December 21.

    At midnight on December 22, the federal government entered a partial government shutdown after Congress and President Trump failed to reach an agreement on a final bill to fund agencies without an approved FY 2019 budget, including USDA.

    On January 3, under the leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the House passed H.J. Res 1 (239-192) and H.R. 21 (241-190), two measures that would end the partial government shutdown that took effect on December 22. H.J. Res 1 would fund the Department of Homeland Security at FY 2018 levels until February 8, while H.R. 21 would fund all other agencies without an approved FY 2019 budget – including USDA – at updated levels through September 30. President Trump threatened to veto the bills because they do not contain funding for a border wall, and despite similar appropriations measures recently passing the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has signaled that the Senate would not take up any measure that the President would not sign.

    During the week of January 7, the House plans to bring a standalone FY 2019 agriculture appropriations bill (H.R. 265) to the floor, in addition to several other individual FY 2019 appropriations bills that have not yet been enacted into law.

    Due to funds available to federal and state agencies, SNAP and child nutrition programs will continue to operate for the time being. For background, see USDA’s Memoranda to State Agencies on Program Operations in Light of Lapse in Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations for Food and Nutrition Service and USDA’s January 8 press release.

    Track the FY 2019 appropriations process and check out FRAC’s summary of the FY 2019 House and Senate agriculture appropriations bills from May 2018.

  • FY 2019 Budget
    On Monday, February 12, President Trump released his FY 2019 budget proposal. One key component: devastating proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that reflect a total disregard of the critical role SNAP plays as a first line of defense against hunger and poverty for tens of millions of Americans. Check out a statement from FRAC President Jim Weill. For a summary of proposed reductions to SNAP and an overview of how other critical nutrition and social safety net programs fare in the president’s budget, check out FRAC’s newly released analysis (pdf).
  • FY 2018 Appropriations
    Annual funding for federal nutrition programs is provided through the agriculture appropriations bill. The agriculture appropriations bill is one of 12 appropriations (spending) bills that the House and Senate pass each year to keep government programs funded.

    On March 22 and 23, the House and Senate passed the FY 2018 omnibus spending bill, H.R.1625 – Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, that funds the government through the remainder of FY 2018 (September 30, 2018). The President signed it into law on March 23. For a summary of the bill, visit the House Appropriations Committee’s website, as well as the Committee on Appropriations Democrats’ page (pdf).

    Track the FY 2018 appropriations process, from subcommittee approval to final passage and public law.

  • FY 2018 Budget
    On Thursday, October 26, the House passed the Senate version of the FY2018 budget, 216-212. This set up a fast-track process (“reconciliation”) for the House and Senate to take up a tax cut bill.

    On Wednesday, December 20, Congress passed its tax cut bill, 224-201. The bill gives huge tax cuts to wealthy individuals and large corporations, while giving tiny tax cuts – or tax increases – to millions of low- and moderate-income households, adding $1.5 trillion to the overall U.S. deficit. GOP leadership has made it clear that in order to pay for that deficit, they will consider deep cuts to critical human needs programs, like SNAP. Check out FRAC’s statement on the passage of the GOP tax cut bill.

    Background:

  • Refundable Tax Credits
    The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) are two of the federal government’s more effective methods in which to lift individuals and families out of poverty. Both of these tax credits are refundable, meaning that they can reduce a filer’s tax burden to zero and any remaining amount is treated as a direct refund to the filer.

    Income thresholds for the EITC are dictated by marital status and number of children. Single childless workers can qualify for the EITC if their income is below $14,900 in the 2015 tax year.

    The CTC is worth up to a maximum of $1,000 per child under the age of 17. Unlike the EITC, a family’s CTC grows as their income grows.

Did You Know?

Every year, Congress is supposed to follow a similar schedule of events throughout the budget and appropriations process. However, in recent years, this process has not always been followed — but the general schedule remains the same.