The $1.1 trillion bipartisan spending bill passed by Congress funds federal agencies through the rest of the fiscal year, eases the sharp budget cuts known as the sequester and ends the lingering threat of another government shutdown. It also affects a number of programs especially important to older Americans.
Here’s how, according to an AARP analysis:
- Increases spending by $41 million on nutrition programs for older Americans, including Meals on Wheels. This replaces across-the-board spending cuts, called sequestration, that took hold after a spending battle almost a year ago. These programs will get $815 million this year.
- Funds the food stamp program, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), at $82.2 billion. Some lawmakers had advocated cutting $40 billion over 10 years from the program, which helps 47 million Americans each month.
- Gives the Social Security Administration enough funding – $11.7 billion – to restore staffing cuts and improve service. That’s nearly a 6 percent increase from what the SSA received last year.
- Expands health care for vulnerable populations and underserved communities. The $3.6 billion for the program is a $700 million increase. Half of that increase will be used to create 450 new community health centers and expand clinical services at existing health centers.
- Restores $169 million that had been cut from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program by sequestration. With $3.4 billion in total funding, states will be able to help more low-income families or increase how much is available to the 7.7 million households already getting aid.
- Increases funding for the Housing for the Elderly program to $383.5 million from last year’s $374 million.
- Exempts disabled veterans from reduced cost-of-living adjustments to the pensions of working-age veterans as set by a budget agreement last month.
President Obama was expected to sign the bill quickly; the fiscal focus now turns to the debt ceiling.
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