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

A comprehensive spending package containing all 12 federal appropriations bills for fiscal year 2021 was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Trump. In addition to annual appropriations, the spending package included emergency funding relief for small businesses and households harmed by the economic consequences of COVID-19. 

To avert a government shutdown, Congress passed and the President signed, a Continuing Resolution (CR) funding the government past the start of the FY21 fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1, through Dec. 11.  

For cities and towns, the CR means that funding and agency support for federal grant programs supporting local governments will remain available until the start of a lame-duck session of Congress following the November elections. Come December, Congress will need to either pass another continuing resolution or a new spending package consisting of the 12 annual appropriations bills. Read more here.  

For FY21, the House has passed 10 of the 12 spending bills, leaving funding proposals for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Legislative Branch to be completed. On July 24, it passed a minibus package of four appropriations bills and on July 31 it passed a minibus package of six appropriations bills. The Senate unveiled its appropriation bills on Nov. 10. As the 116th Congress came to a close, ultimately Congress passed an omnibus appropriations package to fund the federal government through Sept. 30, 2021. 

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 Omnibus 
Rural Utilities Service – Water and Waste Disposal Program $1.45B $1.27B   $1.45B  $1.45B $1.45B
Rural Utility Service – Broadband Grants Program $35M $30M, plus $250M for ongoing 
ReConnect pilot program 
$50M  $35M, 
Plus $400 M for ongoing 
ReConnect pilot program 
 $60M, plus $635M for ReConnect 
Section 521 Rental Assistance $1.375B $1.45B $1.45B  $1.41 B  
Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (mandatory funding) $67.9B $68.351B $68.277B $68.323 B   $114B 


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. House appropriators largely rejected that proposal, instead electing to provide the agency with a smaller increase for anticipated increased spectrum management duties. 

The House Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill was approved by the committee on July 14. It passed the House July 31 as part of a “minibus” package of seven appropriations bills.  

Program FY20 Final FY21 President’s ProposalFY21 HouseFY21 SenateFY21 Omnibus 
National Telecommunications and Information Administration $40M $72.2M $45.5 M  $45 M  $45.5M  
Economic Development Administration $333 M  $0$356 M   $340 M $346 M 
Minority Business Development Agency  $42 M $10 M  $52 M  $42.5 M   $48 M
Manufacturing Extension Partnership $150 M  $146 M  $153 M  $149.5 M  $150 M
Census Bureau $2.5 B  $0   $1.68 B  $1.799 B $1.106B 


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. 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 
Program FY20 Final FY21 President’s Proposal FY21 HouseFY21 SenateFY21 Omnibus
Clean Water State Revolving Fund $1.638B $1.119B $1.638B  $1.638 B $1.638 B  
Drinking Water State Revolving Fund $1.125B $863M $1.126B  $1.126 B  $1.126 B 
Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) $60M $25M  $55 M $65 M  
Brownfields $89M $80M $90M  $89 M  $91 M 
Superfund $1.184B $1.078B $1.22B  $1.184 B $1.2 B  
Water Infrastructure Workforce Development Grants $1M $1M $3M  $1 M $3 M  
Border Water Infrastructure Program $25M Eliminated $25M  $30 M  $30 M 
Geographic Program-Chesapeake Bay $85M $7.3M   $87.5 M  
Geographic Program-Great Lakes Restoration $320M $320M $335M  $320 M $330 M  
Geographic Program-South Florida Everglades $4.8M $3.2M    
Sewer Overflow Control Grants $28M $61.450M $56.7M $32 M   $40 M 
Drinking Water Infrastructure Resilience and Sustainability $3M $2M   $4 M  $4 M 
Reducing Lead in Drinking Water $19.5M $20M $20M  $21.511 M None 
Lead Testing in Schools $26 M $15M    $26.5 M 
Safe Water for Small and Disadvantaged Communities $25.4M Eliminated $26M  $26M  $26M 
U.S. Department of Interior  –
Land and Water Conservation Fund $495M $14.8M $900M *shifting to mandatory funding for FY21 $900 M 
*shifting to mandatory funding for FY21  
$900 M 
*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 Omnibus
Weatherization Assistance Program $309M TBD $3.25B  $310 M $310 M 
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy $2.848B $720M $2.85B  $2.848 B $2.864 B  
State Energy Program $63M TBD $730M  $62.5 M  $62.5 M 
Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant NA NA $2.25B $0  $0

Homeland Security

ProgramFY20 FinalFY21 President’s ProposalFY21 HouseFY21 SenateFY21 Omnibus
State and Local Homeland Security Grant Program $560 M $332 M $700 M  $332 M $610 M 
Urban Area Security Initiative $665 M $426.5 M $795 M  $426 M $705 M 
Firefighter Assistance Grants $355 M $344 M  $385 M   $344 M   $360 M 
Flood Hazard Mapping & Risk Analysis Program$263 M  $100 M  $263 M $263 M  $263 M  
Emergency Management Performance  $355 M $279 M $385 M $355 M $335 M 
Port Security Grants $100 M $36.3 M $110 M $36 M $100 M 
Disaster Relief Fund $17.8 B $5.6 B $5.6 B $17 B $17 B 

Housing And Urban Development 

ProgramFY20 FinalFY21 President’s ProposalFY21 HouseFY21 SenateFY21 Omnibus
CDBG $3.42 B$0$3.5 B   $3.45 B  $3.47 B 
HOME $1.35 B$0$1.7 B  $1.37 B  $1.35 B  
Choice Neighborhoods $175 M $0  $250 M  $100 M    $200 M 
Flood Hazard Tenant Based Rental Assistance $23.8 B $18.8 B  $25.7 B  $25.5 B $25.7 B  
Project Based Rental Assistance $12.5 B $12.6 B  $13.4 B $13.4 B  $13.4 B 
Public Housing Operating Fund $4.5 B$3.5 B  $4.6 B  $4.5 B  $4.8 B 
Public Housing Capital Fund $2.8 B$0$3.1 B  $2.9 B $2.9 B 
Homeless Assistance Grants $2.7 B $2.7 B $3.4 B $2.9 B $3 B 
Healthy Homes & Lead Hazard $290 M$360 M $340 M $360 M $360 M 


The final omnibus appropriations for the Department of Justice includes additional $35 million for Community Policing Development/Training and Technical Assistance. The funding will be used to increase training and technical assistance for co-responder crisis teams, de-escalation training, accreditation support, microgrants, and diversity and anti-bias training. The final budget also provides an additional $90 million for community trust initiative which includes $35 million for body worn cameras (BWC), $33 million for justice reinvestment initiative, and $22 million for criminal justice innovation program. The bill would also provide $7.5 million for a competitive grant program to award grants to State and local law enforcement entities to educate, train, and prepare officers to appropriately interact with mentally ill or disabled individuals. In addition, the final budget provides $5 million to the Department of Justice for the development and deployment of a database to track excessive use of force and officer misconduct, as required by section 3 of Executive Order 13929 (June 16, 2020). In developing the database, the Department is directed to consult with State and local law enforcement agencies, community organizations, and advocacy groups, including those that advocate for the preservation of civil liberties and civil rights. Total state and local law enforcement assistance is $1.9 billion.   

ProgramFY20 FinalFY21 President’s ProposalFY21 HouseFY21 SenateFY21 Omnibus
Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program $547 M $441.7 M $525 M  $481 M $484 M  
COPS Hiring Grants 
Moves COPS to Office of Justice $343 M $239 M  $237 M  
Second Chance Act (SCA) $90 M $87.5 M $100 M   $100 M $100 M  
Drug Courts $70 M$77 M $85 M  $82 M   $83 M 
Mentally Ill Offender Act $20 M $33 M $43 M  $35 M  $35 M 
Veteran Treatment Courts $20 M $22 M  $30 M  $24 M $25 M 
Juvenile Justice Programs $320 M$227.5 M   $337 M   $346 M 
National Instant Criminal Background Check System $70 M $85 M $88 M   $85 M $85 M  
Interagency Law Enforcement Crime and Drug Enforcement Program $550 M$585 M$565 M  $550 M  $550 M 
State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP)$227 M $244 M $251.5 M  $150 M  $244M 
Stop School Violence Act$125 M $150 M $140 M $67 M  $79 M 
Project Safe Neighborhoods $20 M $40 M  $20 M $20 M   $20 M 
Community Trust Initiative, inc. body worn cameras (BWC) $90 M ($35 M for DWC) 
Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program $185 M 
Community Policing Development/Training and Technical Assistance$35 M 
Violence Against Women Prevention and Prosecution Programs $513.5 M 

Labor, Health And Human Services, Education and Related Agencies

Overall, the President’s proposed FY21 budget requests a $1.3 billion decrease for the U.S. Department of Labor (10.5% below current funding levels), $94.5 billion for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (10% below current funding levels), and a $5.6 million decrease for the U.S. Department of Education (7.8% below current funding levels). 

In the President’s budget, 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. 

The House Labor-HHS appropriations bill largely mirrors FY20 enacted levels, with notable increases to special education programs and workforce development.  The bill was approved by the committee on July 13. The bill passed the House on July 31 as part of a minibus package of six appropriations bills. 

The Senate Labor-HHS appropriations bill also largely mirrors the FY20 enacted levels, with notable increases to career and technical education, special education, and the Corporation for National and Community Service.  The bill also calls for a reduction in the Senior Community Service Employment Program.  

The final FY21 Omnibus Appropriations bill largely mirrors the Senate bill. 

ProgramFY20 FinalFY21 President’s ProposalFY21 HouseFY21 SenateFY21 Omnibus
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) $3.3B $3.070B $3.697B  $3.585 B  $3.663 B 
Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act $1.961B $2.723B $1.986B $2.035 B   $2.031 B 
Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) $405M Eliminated $410M  $305 M  $405 M 
21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) $1.255B Eliminated $1.263B  $1.250 B $1.260 B  
Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants $2.138B $1.681 B$1.074B  $2.132 B
$2.138 B  
Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) $13.895B $13.995B $14.093B  $14.013 B $14.071 B 
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) $3.740B Eliminated $3.765B  $3.740 B $3.750 B  
Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) $740M Eliminated $780M  $750 M $775 M  
Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) $1.6B $1.7 B$1.7 B $1.7 B  $1.7 B  
Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) $806M Eliminated $849M $1.15 B $843 M  
Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) $252M Eliminated $257M $257 M  $257 M 
Low-Income Household Drinking Water and Wastewater Emergency Assistance Program N/AN/AN/AN/A$638 M 


Overall, the federal transportation funding levels for both USDOT and programs remain relatively stable. Support for the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD, formerly TIGER) grants remains consistently high across the branches of government. Notably, outside the budgeting process, COVID-19 response bills by Congress increased support to key infrastructure modes like transit and airports, and an additional $10B was secured for the Surface Transportation Block Grant program which is sub-allocated between states and localities and is flexible for many transportation costs. 

ProgramFY20 FinalFY21 President’s ProposalFY21 HouseFY21 SenateFY21 Omnibus
Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) $1B $1B $1B $1B $1B  
Transit Capital Investment Grants $2.3B $1.9B$2.2B  $1.89B  $2B  
Essential Air Service $150.4M $154.3M $162M $141.7 M$141 M