On August 23, the Senate passed the fiscal year (FY) 2019 funding bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (L-HHS-Ed) by a vote of 85-7. A number of amendments were passed to provide funding increases for select programs (such as school-based mental health services, opioid treatment, and child abuse prevention), but the bill did not include controversial policy riders. With only a few legislative days left before the midterm elections, the House is not expected to take up its Labor-HHS-Ed bill before then. A continuing resolution to keep the government funded through November or December is expected.
On June 16, the Committee report was posted for the bill that was passed the day before by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (L-HHS-ED). The report includes line item funding levels for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 and shows that most of The Arc’s priority programs would be level funded, with a few seeing increases and one being cut. On June 28, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the L-HHS-ED funding bill. Like the House version, this bill funds most of The Arc’s priority programs at FY 2018 levels, but does not contain any cuts. See the proposed funding levels by the House and Senate here.
The Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 budget and long term deficit reduction will continue to be on the Senate agenda this week. A group of six lawmakers led by Vice President Joe Biden will meet for the second time Tuesday to continue talks on developing a legislative framework for deficit reduction. President Obama established the group to try and reach agreement before the vote on raising the debt ceiling. Joining the Vice President in the talks are Senators Max Baucus (D-MT), John Kyl (R-AZ), Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI), and Representatives Eric Cantor (R-VA), James E. Clyburn (D-SC), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) is expected to introduce a budget resolution later this week. While the proposal could change before introduction as he continues to discuss the plan with his colleagues, it is expected to reduce the long term deficit by about $4 trillion. It is not likely to turn the Medicare program into a voucher program, but details are not yet known about any suggested Medicaid cuts.
The House Appropriations Committee is expected to release its 302(b) allocation this week. This allocation tells each of the Subcommittees how much it can spend in FY 2012, and the figure is derived from the budget resolution passed by the House last month. It is expected to be a very difficult funding year since the overall discretionary spending was capped at the same amount provided in FY 2006.
Congress wrapped up funding for FY 2011 by passing a Continuing Resolution to fund the government through September 2011. The CR includes $38 billion in cuts to federal programs including a 0.2% across the board cut in all non-defense spending. The House of Representatives passed the FY11 CR by a vote of 260-167. As part of the agreement on the CR, both the House and Senate voted on a proposal to withhold funds for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which passed 240-185 in the House and was rejected 47-53 in the Senate. The House and Senate also voted on barring funding for Planned Parenthood, with the House passing it 240-185 and the Senate rejecting it 42-58. The Senate then easily passed the CR on a vote of 81-19 and the President quickly signed it into law.
On a nearly party-line vote, the House of Representatives passed a budget resolution (H Con Res 34) for Fiscal Year 2012 on Friday, April 15. The budget resolution would cut taxes by $4.2 trillion over 10 years and would cut Medicaid, Medicare, and other critical programs by $4.3 trillion over 10 years. Over the ten year period, only $155 billion would go toward reducing the federal deficit. However, to make such major program cuts, the Medicaid program would be cut by 20 percent and would be converted to a block grant which would grow annually at less than the health care cost of living. The budget resolution passed on a vote of 235 – 193. No Democrats supported it, while 4 Republicans opposed it. The budget resolution does not have the force of law (the President does not sign it), but it sets the guidelines for other legislative action for the Fiscal Year.
On Wednesday, President Obama had called for a bipartisan negotiation process to reach agreement on the FY 2012 budget. He announced a framework for reducing the deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years which includes a balance between spending cuts and tax reform. The framework would not include a Medicaid block grant or privatizing of Medicare or Social Security.