Last month the president released the federal budget for the 2020 fiscal year (FY20), which starts on October 1st, 2019. The president’s budget is almost entirely a political document. The proposed funding levels for different agencies and programs are the mechanism by which the administration expresses its priorities. Ultimately, Congress sets the levels for the different programs by negotiating the 12 different appropriation bills, normally working closely with the White House to ensure the president will ultimately support the final spending levels. However, what the president proposes and what Congress is willing to accept are often drastically different.
One of the most non-partisan issues in Washington is how Congress feels about the budget. Members will point to it if they agree with a funding level, or ignore the budget entirely if they want a different funding level. For example, In FY19, the administration’s budget proposed eliminating funding from the Behavioral Health Workforce Education Training (BHWET) program, in which occupational therapy is included. Congress, after intensive lobbying from AOTA’s policy team and other organizations, increased funding for that program from $50 million in FY18 to $75 million.
For the FY20 budget, the administration has proposed eliminating funding for several programs AOTA has advocated for in the past, and will continue to advocate for in the future. The more we lobby on these programs and show their importance, the more likely we are to have an effect on the federal budget. For example, the BHWET program targeted for funding elimination in the FY19 federal budget was level funded in the FY20 budget.
If you have any questions or concerns about the FY20 federal budget proposal, and AOTA’s lobbying efforts in support of the profession, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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