Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees

2019-08-29T17:46:54+00:00 October 30, 2017|

What It Was

NDD United, which was established after the Budget Control Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-25) created caps on spending through 2021, works to ensure nondefense discretionary (NDD) federal spending is treated on par with defense spending. NDD United held a briefing “Faces of Austerity 2.0: How Budget Cuts Continue To Make Us Sicker, Poorer, And Less Secure” in conjunction with their release of a new report with the same title.

Why It Matters

While small cuts to the federal budget may seem insignificant, the reality is that people around the nation suffer genuine impacts from these reductions. Decreased funding to nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs, which include federal spending on scientific research, education, infrastructure, and environmental protection, make us “sicker, poorer, and less secure.”

Key Points

Congress funds the federal government’s discretionary programs each year through the appropriations process. Discretionary funding (which excludes mandatory spending, such as Social Security) is divided into defense and nondefense discretionary (NDD) spending, which are capped at $549 billion and $516 billion for fiscal year (FY) 2018, respectively. NDD programs include those that benefit education equity, natural parks, emergency preparedness, affordable childcare, addiction prevention, homeless and hungry people.

Speakers, whose stories were highlighted in Faces of Austerity 2.0, spoke about how budget cuts have affected their lives and covered issues from natural resources protection to job training to public health. Mr. Jim Northup (Former Superintendent, Shenandoah National Parks, National Parks Service) reported that funding cuts mean fewer federal jobs, impacting rangers’ ability to provide emergency services to visitors or to maintain park conditions.

Receiving sufficient funds is only part of the equation; when the appropriations process is prolonged by short-term continuing resolutions, programs that rely on federal dollars suffer. Mr. Northup shared how this hindered his ability to hire and plan, and Mr. Michael Gritton (Executive Director, KentuckianaWorks) reported how this causes student scholarships to be delayed or not distributed at all.

NDD United explained how this problem can be addressed through bipartisan agreement to increase budget caps put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-25). Tiffany Kaszuba (Director and Deputy Director, Coalition for Health Funding, NDD United) stated, “The current caps are restrictive and don’t allow Congress to look at program needs, but only focus on money available.”


“We need to fund both NDD and defense to protect and support the American people.” – Representative John Yarmuth (KY-3)

“The truth is NDD is all around you. It touches everyone in the U.S.” – Tiffany Kaszuba (Director and Deputy Director, Coalition for Health Funding, NDD United)

 Find Out More

 Related coverage from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership

See Ocean News Weekly: Week of October 30, 2017 – Number 388 for more congressional news.