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JFNA Domestic Policy and Government Affairs Committee, Federation Executive Directors, State Government and CRC Directors, Planners, and other interested parties


William C. Daroff, Senior Vice President for Public Policy &
Director of the Washington Office

Stephan O. Kline, Associate Vice President for Public Policy


May 23, 2017


Administration Budget for FY 2018 and Action Steps










President Trump submitted his full FY 2018 budget to Congress on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Referred to by the Administration as the New Foundation for American Greatness, this budget, if adopted, would devastate the lives of the most vulnerable in our communities who receive publicly-funded services provided by Jewish federation partner agencies.


Advocacy Message: Vehemently express concerns to your Senators and Representatives and urge them to reject these budget cuts and safeguard human service programs, whether discretionary programs or mandatory entitlements, that provide an effective safety net for the most vulnerable in our communities.  


The Administration’s $4.094 trillion budget proposal for FY 2018 would eliminate or significantly curtail many critical programs entirely as part of a plan to cut federal spending by $3.6 trillion over 10 years. Much of the impact affects the poorest individuals in the United States.


While the Administration’s "Skinny Budget" released in early March 2017 forecast that the Administration would seek cuts of $54 billion for FY 2018 to pay for additional defense spending, in many ways this proposal is much more extreme as it lays the groundwork for sharply reducing the federal commitment to safety net entitlement programs while simultaneously upending financial support for domestic programs funded through the discretionary appropriation bills. This proposal calls for $668 billion in defense spending for FY 2018 ($22 billion above current levels) while only permitting $479 billion for non-defense discretionary programs, $57 billion less than spending for FY 2017.


Federal domestic discretionary programs serve many vital national needs and these programs have already been subjected to repeated cuts over the past six years, including through the sequestration (automatic spending cap) process established by the Budget Control Act of 2011. With rough parity between defense and non-defense discretionary spending, the Administration’s budget proposal would reduce non-defense spending to $429 billion in 2027 (a $200 billion reduction in real terms) while defense spending would rise to $722 billion in the same period.


As we explained to JFNA stakeholders in January, “the incoming Trump administration has made clear that it plans to significantly change many social safety net programs including Medicaid and Medicare and to revisit treatment of charitable tax incentives. If charitable tax incentives are undermined, or Congress significantly reduces funding for human services either by either reducing budgets or by eliminating entitlements, the delivery of human services by Jewish agencies could be crippled.”


While this proposal does not seek to undermine charitable tax incentives, it seeks to implement much of the rest of that agenda. Whether our clients are older adults, people with disabilities, immigrants or refugees, pregnant women, victims of domestic violence, or adults seeking to adopt a child, if this budget is adopted as is and those clients receive publicly-funded services at Jewish nursing homes, Jewish Family Services, JVS, Jewish Community Centers, kosher food pantries, group homes, assisted living centers or hospitals, those services will be significantly diminished.  


We hope that decision-makers treat this proposal merely a statement of Administration interest and that the full proposal is ignored. Some prominent Republicans at first view, seem to feel that way with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Majority Whip, calling it “dead on arrival” and Representative Hal Rodgers (R-KY), immediate-past Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, acknowledging that he is “deeply concerned about the severity of the domestic cuts. We'll see how that changes.” Nonetheless, we cannot act as though this budget is DOA, and will activate our networks to ensure this budget is never enacted.


Here are proposed cuts to entitlement (mandatory spending) programs: 


  • Medicaid: The HHS budget incorporates the tremendous cuts to the Medicaid program that were passed by the House of Representatives earlier in May as part of the American Health Care Act. AHCA would transform Medicaid from an entitlement program to a block grant or capped entitlement by 2020 while cutting (according to the Administration) an estimated $610 billion from the program over a decade (the Congressional Budget Office has estimated those changes would cut $840 billion from the program over the same time period). This would lead to an estimated 14 million fewer clients receiving health and long-term care services including many served through Jewish partner agencies.
  • CHIP: The HHS budget would reauthorize (extend) the Children’s Health Insurance Program while simultaneously cutting $6 billion from the safety net program over the next two years and  $16.7 billion over five years.
  • SNAP: The budget would cut the Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or food stamp program by $193 billion, or more than 25%, over the next 10 years. 
  • SSDI: The budget would cut approximately $72 billion in funding from the Social Security Disability Insurance program over the next ten years.  
  • TANF: The budget would cut the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), an entitlement program for very low income individuals served by Jewish Family Service agencies by $1.1 billion in the next year and $15.8 billion over ten years. It also would cut $6 billion from a TANF Contingency Fund over the next ten years. 


Here are discretionary (appropriated) spending programs of interest that would be eliminated:


  • EFSP: The Department of Homeland Security budget would eliminate the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, which was funded at $120 million in FY 2017. JFNA serves on the national board of EFSP.
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program:  The HHS budget would eliminate the LIHEAP program (funded at $3.384 billion in FY 2017). This program provides emergency heating assistance for many seniors and low-income individuals in the Jewish community in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. 
  • Community Services Block Grant:  CSBG, funded at $714 million in FY 2017, would be eliminated. This program, which funds Jewish human services that help alleviate poverty, helps fund local economic development activities, emergency assistance for recovery from non-insured disasters, and innovative approaches at the state and local levels to combat hunger and promote nutrition.  
  • Social Services Block Grant: SSBG, funded at $1.4 billion in FY 2017, would be eliminated. This flexible funding stream provides an array of funding supports to Jewish agencies including such miscellaneous human services senior transportation, refugee resettlement, adoption and domestic violence services.  
  • Community Development Block Grant: CDBG, funded at $3.1 billion in FY 2017 would be eliminated. This program provides eligible localities with direct grants that can be used to revitalize neighborhoods, expand affordable housing and economic opportunities, and improve community facilities and services, principally to benefit those with low and moderate incomes. It supports congregate meals and transportation programs depended on by JCCs, JFS agencies and other partner institutions.


  • Corporation for National and Community Service: CNCS, funded at $796 million in FY 2017, is an independent agency that would be eliminated. This program helps non-profits serving vulnerable populations with capacity building resources and it has paid for the provision of VISTA volunteers at agencies serving Holocaust Survivors, including one at JFNA. 


Here are discretionary human service programs that would receive substantial cuts:


  • Services for Individuals with Disabilities: Funding at the Administration for Community Living impacting individuals with disabilities would be reduced by $79 million ($386 million in FY 2017 compared to $307 million in FY 2018) with most of the reductions coming from cuts to State Councils on Developmental Disabilities ($73 million), funds promoting independent living ($23 million), Paralysis Resource Centers ($8 million) and traumatic brain injury ($6 million). At the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Section 811 program, which supports group homes, would be cut from $150 million in FY 2017 to $121 million in FY 2018.


  • Refugees: HHS programs supporting refugees would be cut by $665 million (from $2,122 billion in FY 2017 to $1,457 billion in FY 2018) with the largest reductions affecting unaccompanied alien children ($448 million) and transitional and medical services ($169 million). At the Department of State, Migration and Refugee Assistance would be cut by $313 million and the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Program would be eliminated ($50 million).


  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: SAMHSA would be cut by $400 million from $4.3 billion to $3.9 billion with the biggest reductions impacting mental health delivery to the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant ($116 million reduction) and programs of regional and national significance ($136 million reduction). Programs impacting on substance abuse prevention would be cut by $73 million.


Services for Seniors:  In contrast to the programs previously discussed in this document, the core home- and community-based programs for seniors at the Administration for Community Living would be relatively unaffected by the budget proposal, other than chronic disease self-management which would be cut by $3 million. The budget includes flat funding for the budget line that supports the Holocaust Survivor Grant. Independent living programs for seniors (the Section 202 program) at the Department of Housing and Urban Development appears to be relatively unaffected by this budget with appropriations seeming to rise to $510 million from $433 million, although HUD’s budget authority for this programming would actually be reduced from $694 million to $661 million.


Here is the broader advocacy message for Members of Congress that we urge you to pursue:


  1. Ignore the New Foundation for American Greatness. Don’t use it as a starting point for budget discussions with the Administration.
  2. End sequestration! These are the automatic spending caps established by the 2011 Budget Control Act. This process was never intended to go into effect and it has already reduced discretionary spending by hundreds of billions of dollars.
  3. If sequestration continues, maintain relative parity between the defense and non-defense components of the appropriation bills.
  4. Don’t cut valuable social service programs that protect the most vulnerable in our communities.
  5. Find your representative here and your senators here.


We will share more information about the FY 2018 federal budget process as we learn it. When you and others in your community speak to Senators and Members of Congress, please let us know their reactions. If you have questions, feel free to contact Stephan Kline, Associate Vice President, at