How Does Washington Spell Relief? O-m-n-i-b-u-s

Calculator and cash sit on American FlagWhile “omnibus” isn’t the way most people spell relief, in our nation’s capital nothing short of a huge sigh of relief was felt as the $1.1 trillion FY 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill that funds every nook and cranny of the federal government passed the House and Senate by significant margins and headed for the president’s desk last week.

And like most things that manage to pass Congress these days, there was a little something for everyone to like — and dislike — about the bill.  Many conservatives bemoaned the fact the bill broke the sequester budget caps imposed in 2011, but others cheered the fact that a huge cut in defense spending was averted.   Many liberals decried the fact that the bill didn’t extend long term unemployment benefits, but welcomed it because almost all domestic nondefense programs were not only spared another year of cuts, but some even had small gains over 2013.

Among the programs that will see some increases over FY 2013 are the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Adult Employment and Training Program (+36 million), the Dislocated Workers Employment and Training Program(+43 million), WIA youth activities (+39 million), state Title I vocational rehabilitation grants (+273 million) and Title VI supported employment grants .

What remains to be seen is whether this fresh start to the New Year can be sustained as Congress tackles additional tough issues such the Farm Bill and Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding, lifting the debt ceiling, and tax and entitlement reforms.  Later this month the president will lay out his plan for 2014 in the State of the Union Address, set for Tuesday, January 28, at 9:00 pm ET.

Following that will be the release of the administration’s FY 2015 budget and Congress, having already agreed to an overall budget number of $1.2 trillion for 2015, will begin work on spending bills almost immediately.   And Goodwill will keep you posted every step of the hopefully harmonious way in this process.