Government Relations Update March 2019
White House Budget Released
On March 11, the White House released its annual budget request to Congress. The president’s budget highlights the administration’s priorities for fiscal year 2020, although the figures proposed in the document are subject to the will of Congress through the appropriations process. Consistent with the past two budgets released by this administration, the document lays out requests for large cuts across the board on a wide variety of federal programs. Several notable agencies would be subject to significant cuts under the proposal, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ($1 billion cut), the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) ($4.4 billion cut), the National Science Foundation (NSF) ($1 billion cut), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) ($4.9 billion cut), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) ($219 million cut as the first phase of closing the agency permanently). It is worth noting that funding has increased or remained untouched for the vast majority of federal programs over the past two years, though it is unclear if this trend will continue with the sunset of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which raised statutory caps on spending, coming at the end of fiscal year 2019.
RUS Announces Opening of ReConnect Application Window
In a March 29 press release, Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley announced that USDA will begin accepting applications for the ReConnect Program on April 23, 2019. The submission deadlines for each of the three funding categories remain as follows:
Grants: May 31, 2019
Loan/Grant Combinations: June 21, 2019
Loans: July 12, 2019
Additional information about ReConnect, including eligibility guidelines and application tools, is available at the program’s website.