Key Federal Legislation, Policy and Appropriations
Below are details about key federal legislation, policy and appropriations of priority to NCJA members. NCJA members are also encouraged to visit the Congressional Affairs page int he Members Only section for access to our Status of Legislation Chart and Justice Assistance Table. If you need additional information, please contact Elizabeth Pyke, Director of Government Affairs, at email@example.com.
Current Appropriations Bills
The FY16 funding cycle is complete, but FY17 remains in limbo.
Congress completed the FY16 appropriations cycle on December 18, 2015 when President Obama signed the bill, Public Law 114-113, into law. The final omnibus bill, called the Consolidated Appropriations Act, wrapped all 12 individual appropriations bills, including the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) bill, into one legislative vehicle.
Most of the state and local justice assistance grant programs were level funded or increased slightly from FY15 levels. The Byrne JAG formula program was increased from $333 million in FY15 to $347 million in FY16.
For the second year, Congress increased the annual cap on the Crime Victims Fund from $745 million in FY14 to $2.361 billion in FY15 to $3.042 billion in FY16.
The FY17 appropriations process, however, is stalled. Congress was unable to pass the FY17 appropriations bills before the start of the fiscal year on October 1, 2016. Instead, members passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) funding all government agencies and programs at FY16 levels through December 9, 2016. Hours before the December 9 deadline, Congress passed another CR funding government operations through April 28, 2017.
That second CR added $500 million in FY17 funds for grant programs administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to fight opioid addiction as authorized in the recently-passed 21st Century Cures Act. The language in the CR allows HHS to begin awarding grants at the earliest opportunity rather than waiting for the final appropriations bill or for the FY18 appropriations cycle. The CR also added $7 million to the Byrne JAG program to reimburse the overtime costs of state and local law enforcement agencies involved in security for President-elect Trump for the weeks between the election and the inauguration.
Most observers believe there will not be sufficient time in late April to debate and pass the 12 appropriations bills, forcing Congress to extend the CR until the end of the fiscal year, most likely with an across-the-board cut to federal agencies and programs.
Release of the President’s budget is the first step in the long annual appropriations process. As is usually the case in the first year of a new administration, President Trump is not expected to release an FY18 budget request until late spring. Typically the 12 subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees hold hearings on the programs and functions under their jurisdictions through the spring and summer, take testimony on the President’s budget request and on the needs and goals of the various federal agencies. Whether and by how much that process may be slowed in this first year of the Trump Administration is still unclear.
See the Byrne JAG section for more detailed information on funding in recent fiscal years. NCJA members have access to the Justice Assistance Table that provides program level detail on the President’s budget request (available in the Members Only section).