On March 22, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) released a draft budget resolution for fiscal year (FY) 2020. The budget proposes to reduce the deficit by $538 billion over five years compared to current law, primarily through reductions in mandatory spending. Additionally, it provides reconciliation instructions for five committees to reduce the deficit by a total of $94 billion. To learn more about the budget proposal, see the committee website. Unlike the president’s budget, budget resolutions in the House and Senate can be enacted and have the force of law. While the Senate budget is not nearly as extreme as the president’s budget, it’s inclusion of reconciliation instructions is the first step to developing legislation that could change the structure and financing of the Medicaid program. The House would need to pass the identical measure for such legislation to be developed.
On June 21, the House Budget Committee approved a Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Budget Resolution. The budget calls for $6 trillion in cuts over a decade, which include Medicaid per capita caps and block grants, Medicare privatization, and repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The budget resolution contains “reconciliation instructions” that direct eleven committees to come up with at least $302 billion in savings over ten years. This target includes at least $20 billion from the Energy and Commerce Committee and $150 billion from the Ways and Means Committee, which have jurisdiction over Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act. A “reconciliation bill” that outlines how these cuts would be made would require only a simple majority (51) to pass in the Senate. The Senate Budget Committee may write its own FY 2019 Budget Resolution and it is unclear whether the full House will vote on this budget resolution. See The Arc’s statement on the Budget Committee’s passage of the measure here.
The Senate Budget Committee passed its fiscal year 2018 Budget along a party line vote of 12 to 11 on October 5. It also passed an amendment by Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) for implementing work requirements for all means-tested federal “welfare” programs. The Senate Budget provides instructions to the Finance Committee to allow the Committee to increase the deficit by to $1.5 trillion over the next decade. In addition to taxation, the Finance Committee has jurisdiction over Medicaid, Medicare, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, and other health and human services programs. The Senate Budget also assumes trillions of dollars in cuts to mandatory programs and proposes a cut of nearly 30% in inflation adjusted dollars to non-defense discretionary programs by 2027.
The full Senate is expected to take up the measure the week of October 16. If it passes as expected, it will set up a conference with the House to iron out the substantial differences between their budgets. If both chambers are able to pass the same version, it could allow for legislation that can be passed by a simple majority (51) in the Senate. Click here for an analysis of the Senate 2018 Budget Resolution.
The House passed its fiscal year (FY) 2018 Budget Resolution (H.Con.Res.71) on October 5 by a vote of 219 to 206. While tax reform is the stated priority of the majority party for this budget, there are numerous provisions that would be very harmful to people with disabilities. The House Budget Resolution has stronger language than the Senate Budget Resolution calling for trillions of dollars in spending cuts over a decade, including to programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. The House Budget also assumes the adoption of an Affordable Care Act repeal bill that has not advanced. It does not allow for tax cuts to increase the deficit, also unlike the Senate’s Budget. Instead it provides instructions to 11 committees for $203 billion in spending cuts and proposes to cut nondefense spending by $5 billion, while increasing defense spending by $72 billion. Click here for The Arc’s statement on the House passage of its 2018 Budget Resolution.
The Senate Budget Committee released its Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Resolution on September 29. The budget resolution (BR) is a 10-year spending and revenue blueprint for the federal government. The Senate Budget Committee’s BR contains reconciliation instructions that will allow the Finance Committee to develop tax reform legislation that increases the deficit by to $1.5 trillion over the next decade. In addition, the BR includes reserve funds for legislation to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act, extend the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and ensure “state flexibility” in education, among other things. The BR is expected to be marked up in committee next week and brought to the full Senate in mid-October. The Arc is concerned that the BR will open the door for Congress to try again to limit health care and cut the Medicaid program as well as to provide large tax cuts that result in the need to cut Medicaid and other programs down the road to pay for them. Click here for the summary of the Senate budget resolution.
The House plans to vote on its fiscal year 2018 Budget Resolution on Wednesday, October 4. Click here for a summary of the House Budget Resolution, which includes plans to “reform” Medicaid, cut spending, and enact tax reform. Passage of the House resolution (H.Con.Res.71) would set up a conference with the Senate on its budget blueprint (see article below). The House and Senate could quickly adopt a joint budget resolution to pave the way for legislation that can be passed by a simple majority (51) vote in the Senate. The Arc opposes the House Budget Resolution.
After two weeks spent debating hundreds of amendments, the House passed a $1.23 trillion omnibus spending bill on September 14 to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year (FY 2018). The bill included significant increases in defense spending and cuts in non-defense spending. The bill is not expected to pass the Senate because it exceeds base discretionary spending caps for Defense programs established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 by approximately $72 billion. A budget agreement to change the spending caps would be needed to avoid across-the-board spending cuts (known as a sequester). In addition, the House bill includes $1.6 billion for the controversial border wall with Mexico and many other controversial policy riders such as limitations on the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The House and Senate will have to negotiate a spending bill before December 8 when the current continuing resolution expires in order to avoid a government funding shutdown.
On July 14, the House Appropriations Committee passed a fiscal year (FY) 2017 spending bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED). The measure provides $161.6 billion in discretionary funding, a cut of $569 million from FY 2016 and $2.8 billion below the President’s budget. It was passed following a long debate on how to combat infectious diseases, including the Zika virus. Most disability-related programs were level funded, except for a few education programs that would take large cuts. Click here to see the line item funding levels and the percentage change from FY 2016. The measure also includes $300 million to address the Zika virus.
Also on July 14, the Senate was unable to clear a procedural motion to vote on a spending bill that includes $1.1 billion to address the Zika virus. The measure was blocked due to opposition to policy changes added to the funding bill, including one to prevent funding of Planned Parenthood clinics. Both chambers recessed that evening, leaving spending bills unfinished prior to their seven-week recess. One or more continuing resolutions are expected to fund the federal government after the start of FY 2017 on October 1.
On May 5 the Senate approved a concurrent budget resolution for FY 2016 which begins October 1. The measure was approved by a vote of 51-48. The U.S. House of Representatives had approved the same plan the previous week by a margin of 226-197. While this budget framework is not legally binding, it serves as the blueprint for making decisions about spending and revenues in the coming fiscal year. The 2016 concurrent budget resolution includes several attacks on major programs that will harm people with disabilities, such as:
- Possible permanent cuts and elimination of the entitlement to services in the Medicaid program. Medicaid provides the vast majority of long term supports and services (LTSS), including home and community-based services (HCBS), and many employment supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The proposed block grants to the states would require fundamental structural changes to the basic Medicaid program which could lead to states restricting eligibility and services or increasing costs for individuals, or other options to replace the reduced funding.
- Repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA includes numerous protections and benefits for persons with disabilities, such as prohibiting private health insurance exclusions for pre-existing conditions, eliminating annual and lifetime caps in private insurance policies, and restricting the consideration of health status in setting premiums.
- Dramatic cuts to non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs. NDD programs – which include early intervention, education, employment, housing, and much more – would be cut by another $496 billion from 2017-2025 on top of the sequestration cuts that extend through 2021. This would more than double the cuts in NDD programs over the coming decade. See the funding chart showing cuts to disability programs since 2010.
Learn more about the Congressional budget plan at http://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/ten-serious-flaws-in-the-congressional-budget-plan.
The Senate is expected to vote early this week on the compromise concurrent budget resolution (Senate Concurrent Resolution 11) which lays out a budget plan for the Committees to fund programs for Fiscal Year 2016. Once the Senate approves, the next steps will include the relevant committees writing legislation to implement the outline in the budget resolutions. A budget resolution does not go to the President for approval and it does not become law. However, the resulting legislation must be passed by both the House and Senate and signed by the President to become law.