As expected, the House and Senate passed their Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Resolutions last week. The measures passed with votes nearly along party lines of 228-199 and 52-46, respectively. Both contain drastic cuts to the entitlement and discretionary programs that people with disabilities rely on. They would cut funding by block granting the Medicaid program (called “flexible state allotments”), privatizing the Medicare program, and freezing discretionary funding over the next decade.
Additionally, the House budget resolution includes several harmful provisions on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). It reiterates a House rule that creates roadblocks to preventing a 20 percent across-the-board SSDI benefit after 2016, and proposes cutting SSDI for people who also receive Unemployment Insurance after trying to work, but losing their job. The Senate budget resolution does not include these provisions.
Passage of the two resolutions paves the way for the House and Senate to begin negotiating a joint budget resolution. See The Arc’s statement on the passage of the budget resolutions.
See a more detailed summary of what is in the budget resolutions in last week’s edition at:
Both House and Senate leadership have announced that they expect floor votes later this week on their annual budget resolutions (see details below). Congressional leaders also announced that they hope to have a budget agreement by April 15th. If the House and Senate agreement in the form of a Budget Resolution includes any budget reconciliation instructions, then the designated committees will begin developing bills to reach the spending cut targets specified. The Appropriations Committees will also begin working on their respective spending bills for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 which begins on October 1, 2015 using the totals specified by the Budget Resolution. Advocates are urged to oppose both budgets. Stay tuned for an action alert.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-Ed) is scheduled to mark up its FY 2013 spending bill that funds the majority of disability-related programs on July 18. The Senate Appropriations committee passed its version of the bill last month. Regardless of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees’ actions, these specific bills are unlikely to be enacted due to the differences between the chambers. The House Appropriations Committee is working with a budget limit that is $19 billion below the limit the Senate Appropriations Committee is using. Instead, one or more continuing resolutions is anticipated to keep the federal government operating into the post-election “lame duck” session of Congress.
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 April 4, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his Fiscal Year 2012 spending plan. This plan potentially represents the greatest threat to funding for disability programs in our history. Key provisions are:
Advocates are strongly encouraged to take action against the House Budget Resolution. It is important to note that despite the extremely troubling implications for disability program funding, this vote is only on a blueprint for the actual appropriations legislation which will follow. Click here to learn about the budget and appropriations process and disability program funding.