Legislative Update: CSBG and WAP Continuing Resolution Funding Update

— NASCSP Staff —

The Senate is in the process of completing its work on the continuing resolution (CR) for the balance of fiscal year (FY) 2013, ending on September 30, 2013. The Senate Appropriations Committee has reported a bill which has proceeded to the floor for debate and a final vote.

NASCSP was instrumental in persuading the Administration to seek a “budget anomaly” for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) in the CR. This would have funded the program at the level of $139 million. Unfortunately, given the pressures to hold down spending driven in large part by sequestration, the Senate Appropriations Committee is proceeding to fund WAP at the same level as contained in the House passed CR, which is the unacceptably low level of $68 million. NASCSP is currently working with our allies to increase WAP funding before final action is taken on the bill. However, chances of an increase are uncertain at this time.

While NASCSP is disappointed that the Administration’s request for $139 million was turned aside by the Senate Committee, we will continue to battle for increased FY 2013 funding by turning our efforts next to the Department of Energy (DOE). NASCSP will work with our Senate supporters to ask DOE to use its discretion under the CR to fund WAP at the level of $139 million. We understand the inherent difficulty that any increases to WAP will have to be offset by other programs in DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) portfolio, which was cut by both sequestration and the CR. We are also continuing to press for our requested level of no less than $210 million in FY 2014 budget which will be released next month. Thirty-seven Senators wrote to the President in early December seeking this level for WAP in FY 2014.

In the CR, the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) will be funded at the same level as FY 2012 with an additional cut, of around 5%, due to sequestration. This blog post from last week outlines the potential allocation scenarios and state funding totals for the rest of FY 2013. The CSBG funding level in the CR is significantly greater than the President’s proposed 50% cut. We will continue to push Congress and the Administration to fund CSBG at a high level and inform them of the damaging effects of sequestration on our communities and services for low-income Americans.

A final bill will likely be passed in the Senate by this weekend, with a bill on the President’s desk by next week. NASCSP will keep you up to date of any changes that might occur.