State of Play for Cities

Federal investment in cities, towns and villages is critical! Stay up to date on the Fiscal Year 2021 federal budget and appropriations process. NLC is tracking and compiling everything you need to know about the status of the federal budgets and investments in your community. 

The Congressional Budget and Appropriations Process

Congress approved a two-year bipartisan budget deal in August 2019 for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. The bipartisan agreement raises overall spending caps for defense and non-defense discretionary programs by $321 billion over two years. Funding for domestic programs will increase by 4.5%, or $27 billion, over the FY19 level. The budget deal, which NLC supported, lessens the possibility of another federal government shutdown before the next presidential election. The risk of a shutdown is not entirely eliminated, however, because Congress must still pass the 12 annual appropriations bills. NLC opposes government shutdowns. 

Where Do the Numbers Stand


Overall, the President’s proposed FY21 budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture cuts $21.8 billion from the department (8% below current FY20 levels). One notable program for local governments is the Rural Utility Service broadband grant account – a mixture of loans and grants provided on a competitive basis to internet service providers for network buildout in unserved rural areas. The President’s FY21 budget proposal cuts $5 million from the Rural Utility Service broadband grants program, while increasing the ReConnect pilot program account to $250 million.    

The House Agriculture appropriations bill was approved by the committee on July 9. The bill passed the House on July 24 as part of a minibus package of four appropriations bills. 

Program FY20 FinalFY21 President’s ProposalFY21 HouseFY21 SenateFY21 Final 
Rural Utilities Service – Water and Waste Disposal Program $1.45B $1.27B   $1.45B   
Rural Utility Service – Broadband Grants Program $35M $30M, plus $250M for ongoing ReConnect pilot program    
Section 521 Rental Assistance $1.375B $1.450B $1.45B   
Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (mandatory funding) $67.9B $68.351B $68.277B   


The President’s FY21 budget proposes a $32 million increase to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration for modernization of the national spectrum management system, as well as updates to NTIA’s research labs for testing of 5G technologies.  

Program FY20 Final FY21 President’s ProposalFY21 HouseFY21 SenateFY21 Final
National Telecommunications and Information Administration $40M $72.2M    
Economic Development Administration      
Minority Business Development Agency      
Manufacturing Extension Partnership      
Census Bureau      


Overall, the President’s FY21 budget proposal cuts $6.7 billion from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (27% below FY20 funding) and $12.7 billion from the U.S. Department of the Interior (13% below FY20 funding). For the most part, key local programs see modest proposed cuts. The President’s budget provides funding for key programs established by the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act of 2016 and the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water and in schools, improve drinking water infrastructure resilience, address sewer overflows, and invest in workforce development in the water infrastructure sector. Besides the three geographic programs listed below, the President’s budget proposes to eliminate regional programs.   

The House Interior-Environment appropriations bill closely follows FY20 numbers for key programs and provides increased funding in some instances. The House Appropriations Committee approved the bill on July 10 on a party-line vote. The bill also includes $15 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations for infrastructure projects, including for the State Revolving Funds and other water infrastructure grants, Brownfields and Superfund. The bill passed the House on July 24 as part of a minibus package of four appropriations bills.  

The bill also includes a number of policy provisions, including blocking a new White House rule changing how the National Environmental Policy Act is implemented and bipartisan amendments that would force EPA to go through with regulation on PFAS and that would provide EPA $2 million to study links between exposure to PFAS and susceptibility to the COVID-19 virus.   

Emergency supplemental funding (not included in figures below):  

  • $10.2 billion for Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds  
  • $1 billion for Superfund program for site remediation  
  • $950 million for targeted water infrastructure grants for lead pipe replacement, sewer overflow control, and for small and disadvantaged communities  
  • $350 million for Brownfields grants  
  • $450 million for Diesel Emissions Reduction (DERA) grants.  
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 
Program FY20 Final FY21 President’s Proposal FY21 HouseFY21 SenateFY21 Final
Clean Water State Revolving Fund $1.638B $1.119B $1.638B   
Drinking Water State Revolving Fund $1.125B $863M $1.126B   
Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) $60M $25M   
Brownfields $89M $80M $90M   
Superfund $1.184B $1.078B $1.22B   
Water Infrastructure Workforce Development Grants $1M $1M $3M   
Border Water Infrastructure Program $25M Eliminated $25M   
Geographic Program-Chesapeake Bay $85M $7.3M    
Geographic Program-Great Lakes Restoration $320M $320M $335M   
Geographic Program-South Florida Everglades $4.8M $3.2M    
Sewer Overflow Control Grants $28M $61.450M $56.7M   
Drinking Water Infrastructure Resilience and Sustainability $3M $2M    
Reducing Lead in Drinking Water $19.5M $20M $20M   
Drinking Fountain Lead Testing $0 $10M    
Safe Water for Small and Disadvantaged Communities $25.4M Eliminated $26M   
U.S. Department of Interior  –
Land and Water Conservation Fund $495M $14.8M $900M *shifting to mandatory funding for FY21   


Overall, the President’s proposed FY21 budget cuts $35.4 from the U.S. Department of Energy (8% below current funding levels). For local governments, key programs such as the Weatherization Assistance Program, which helps improve the energy efficiency of homes for low-income families, fall under the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). EERE would see a cut of 75% below current funding levels under the President’s budget. Moreover, the President’s budget prioritizes research and development under EERE over implementation and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.    

The House Energy-Water appropriations bill provides significant increases in programs important to local governments, including funding for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block grant, which was last funded in 2009. The bill provides an additional $23.5 billion in emergency funding for the Department of Energy to modernize energy infrastructure for a clean energy future. The bill passed the House on July 31 as part of a minibus package of six appropriations bills.   

ProgramFY20 FinalFY21 President’s ProposalFY21 HouseFY21 SenateFY21 Final
Weatherization Assistance Program $309M TBD $3.25B   
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy $2.848B $720M $2.85B   
State Energy Program $63M TBD $730M   
Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant NA NA $2.25B   

Homeland Security

The President’s FY20 proposed budget for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides $51.7B in net discretionary funding while an additional $19.4B for the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) is requested for response and recovery to major disasters. The budget once again seeks and additional $5B for construction of approximately 200 miles of new border wall system. The budget also provides $2.3B for a variety of grant funding provided to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments in the form of non-disaster grants. These grants are intended to support and sustain capabilities at the state, local, tribal, and territorial levels in our nation’s highest-risk transit systems, ports, and along our borders to prevent and respond to terrorism and other high-consequence disasters and emergencies.

Programs we expect to be considered in this proposal include:

  • State and Local Homeland Security Grant Program
  • Urban Area Security Initiative
  • Firefighter Assistance Grants
  • Pre-Disaster Mitigation Fund
  • Flood Hazard Mapping & Risk Analysis Program
  • Emergency Management Performance
  • Port Security Grants
  • Disaster Relief Fund

We expect an update to the full proposal after the Nov. 3rd election

Housing And Urban Development 

The President’s budget proposal recommends an overall cut of 16.5 percent to the FY20 budget for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). If enacted, community development funding for city priorities, including CDBG and HOME, would be eliminated.  House of Representatives’ rejected the President’s proposal and instead approved a bill that would increase funding for housing and community development. Both CDBG and HOME grant programs would be increased under the House bill. The Senate is also advancing a bill that is favorable to city programs, with flat or increased funding across the board compared to FY19 funding levels.

Programs we expect to be considered in this proposal include:

  • CDBG
  • HOME
  • Choice Neighborhoods
  • Tenant Based Rental Assistance
  • Project Based Rental Assistance
  • Public Housing Operating Fund
  • Public Housing Capital Fund
  • Homeless Assistance Grants
  • Healthy Homes & Lead Hazard

We expect an update to the full proposal after the Nov. 3rd election


The President’s FY20 budget proposal for the Department of Justice (DOJ) request totals $29.2B. The budget requests an additional $146.9M to strengthen federal law enforcement’s ability to reduce violent crime. The budget proposal also looks to support state and local assistance programs, including $604.2M for violent crime reduction efforts, $100M for Project Safe Neighborhood, $405.2M in Byrne Justice Assistance Grants, and $99.0M for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program.

Programs we expect to be considered in this proposal include:

  • Second Change Act (SCA)
  • Drug Courts
  • Mentally Ill Offender Act
  • Veteran Treatment Courts
  • Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act Activities
  • Juvenile Justice Program
  • National Instant Criminal Background Check System
  • Interagency Law Enforcement Crime and Drug Enforcement Program
  • State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP)
  • Stop School Violence Act
  • Violent Gang and Gun Crime Reduction/Project Safe Neighborhoods
  • Violence Against Women Act

While the proposals aren’t completed, here’s what we do know:

ProgramFY20 FinalFY21 President’s ProposalFY21 HouseFY21 SenateFY21 Final
Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG)$547M (includes $100M for presidential conventions)     
COPS Hiring Grant$235M     

We expect an update to the full proposal after the Nov. 3rd election

Labor, Health And Human Services, Education And Related Agencies

In a repeat of the Administration’s previous budget requests, important programs for cities within the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services were largely eliminated in their FY21 budget proposal, including the independent agencies of the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, as well as key programs such as 21st Century Community Learning Centers and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The budget proposes to eliminate the Charter Schools Program grant and combine with other elementary and secondary education programs into a $19.4 Elementary and Secondary Education for the Disadvantaged Block Grant Program. The budget also proposes an increase in nearly $900 million for career and technical education programs, largely through the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act that was recently reauthorized.  

ProgramFY20 FinalFY21 President’s ProposalFY21 HouseFY21 SenateFY21 Final
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) $3.3B $3.070B $3.607B   
Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act $1.961B $2.723B $1.986B   
Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) $405M Eliminated $410M   
21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) $1.255B Eliminated $1.263B   
Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants $2.138B $1.681 $1.074B   
Charter School Program Grants $461M Eliminated and combined with 28 other federal elementary and secondary education programs into a single, $19.4B block grant program, called the Elementary and Secondary Education for the Disadvantaged Block Grant.    
Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) $365M Eliminated    
Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) $13.895B $13.995B $14.093B   
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) $3.740B Eliminated $3.765B   
Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) $740M Eliminated $780M   
Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) $1.6B Eliminated $1.17B   
Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) $806M Eliminated $849M   
Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) $252M Eliminated $257M   


The President’s FY20 budget proposal continues to promote a $200B infrastructure package while cutting other transportation programs on which cities rely, such as the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grants and Essential Air Service. The budget acknowledges the need to reauthorize the FAST Act as well as return the Highway Trust Fund to solvency with Congress.

Programs we expect to be considered in this proposal include:

  • Infrastructure Proposal
  • Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD and previously called TIGER)
  • Transit Capital Investment Grants
  • Essential Air Service

We expect an update to the full proposal after the Nov. 3rd election