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    Get on the (Omni)Bus!

    Once again, I find myself writing a blog where by the time you read it, the government could be shutdown.  Yesterday the federal government was closed for a snow day on the first full day of Spring, and if Congress doesn’t pass the recently released Omnibus bill by midnight on Friday,  March 23rd, the government will be closed due to lack of funding…again.

    Six months into Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18), Congress will likely pass an Omnibus spending measure. The federal government’s fiscal year runs from October 1st until September 30th.  The government has been running on a series of continuing resolutions to keep program funded and keep the government up and running. When there is no spending agreement, it causes a government shutdown.

    Each year the President has to propose a budget.  The President’s budget proposal is generally disposed of by Congress, but it does provide important insights into key priority areas for the Administration.  In the meantime, Congress generally works on their own budget which includes the topline spending numbers for each agency. Last month I wrote about a two year budget agreement that was reached. However that agreement dealt with the topline spending (how much money can be budgeted to different agencies).  The Appropriations Committees then had to work on twelve individual spending bills where they appropriate/allocate funds to specific programs. The Omnibus bill is a compilation of those individual bills.

    Goodwill Industries International’s (GII) Government Relations team is analyzing the 2,232 page bill, but we are pleased to see continued funding for job-training and workforce development programs, specifically those that support older workers, people with criminal backgrounds, and youth among others. Many key workforce and education programs even have an increase in funding, including apprenticeship grants at the Department of Labor, from current levels of $95 million to $145 million.

    GII is also celebrating along with many other nonprofits, the fact that a repeal of the Johnson Amendment was not included in the final text. The Johnson Amendment is the law that prevents charitable nonprofits from engaging in partisan political activity.

    Your advocacy around opposing the Johnson Amendment repeal and in support of increased funding for critical programs paid off.   It’s time to keep the momentum going as Congress directs its attention to FY19 funding.   Contact you lawmakers via GII’s Legislative Action Center and urge them to continue to invest in America’s workforce.

    Laura Walling
    Senior Director of Government Affairs
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