On January 4, the Senate approved, with a nearly party line vote of 51 to 48, a procedural motion to move ahead with a fiscal year 2017 budget resolutionintroduced the day before that is intended to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and may result in other harmful provisions for people with disabilities. The measure provides “reconciliation instructions” to four authorizing committees so that repeal legislation can move through a fast-track process and can advance with only a simple majority in the Senate instead of the usual 60 votes required:
- House Ways and Means
- House Energy and Commerce
- Senate Finance
- Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Each of these committees is charged with developing legislation to achieveat least $1 billion in deficit reduction over 10 years (fiscal years 2017 through 2026) to submit to their proposals respective Budget Committees by January 27, 2017. These instructions are intended to produce repeal of parts of the ACA that impact mandatory spending or revenue such as the individual mandate to have health insurance, federal subsidies to purchase health insurance, funding for Medicaid expansion, and various taxes that help fund the ACA. However, since the instructions are broad, the resulting legislation could include other provisions that will cut federal spending such as block granting the Medicaid program.
The Senate began to debate the budget resolution and is expected to continue working on amendments this week. Congressional leaders have stated their intent to have the budget resolution adopted by both chambers by Jan. 20, when Donald Trump will be sworn in as president.