House Passes Budget Plan

The House of Representatives voted (226-197) on Thursday, April 30, to approve a compromise concurrent budget resolution (Senate Concurrent Resolution 11) which lays out a budget plan for the Committees to fund programs for Fiscal Year 2016.  The resolution maintains the statutory caps on discretionary funding such as funding for education, housing, transportation, and other programs.  It would also repeal the Affordable Care Act.  In addition, the resolution could result in permanent cuts and elimination of the entitlement to services in the Medicaid program –  which provides the bulk 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 concurrent budget resolution would require that the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Finance Committee find at least $1 billion in savings in programs under their jurisdiction.  The resolution does not specify which programs must be cut to reach the $1 billion.  However, authorization of these cuts allows fundamental changes to the structure of the Medicaid program in order to achieve these savings.  Structural changes to Medicaid are likely to include block grants to the states and reductions in eligibility and services.  Furthermore, the cuts could be much greater than $1 billion or the Congress could proceed with more extensive cuts in future years once the Medicaid structural changes are in place.

House and Senate Pass Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Resolutions: Proposals Include Major Cuts to Programs Including Medicaid

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:

House and Senate Expected to Vote on their Budget Resolutions later this week; Aiming to have agreement by April 15

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.

House subcommittee scheduled to mark up Labor-HHS-Ed bill on Wednesday

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.

House may include continuing resolutions in ‘Megabus’ appropriations bill

As House appropriators finalize a spending bill before the government runs out of funding later this week, reports indicate that the deal implements a spending pact negotiated this summer and could sidestep one or more of the nine remaining overdue Fiscal Year 2012 spending bills. This could avoid resolving difficult disagreements by including continuing resolutions (CRs) to cover certain agencies and programs. House Republicans have been seeking to bar the use of appropriated money to implement health care reform and environmental protections. Democratic appropriators have considered using CRs for some of the most contentious bills, because that approach would block Republican efforts to use them to change existing federal policy. The most likely candidate for a continuing resolution in the overall appropriations package is the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education bill (HR 3070) which funds the vast majority of disability-related discretionary programs. Even with time running out, intense work continues to wrap up the remaining FY 2012 bills in a single package. The text of a final appropriations package is expected to be released late tonight, allowing a mandatory two-day advance publication before the House votes on it the middle of the week. Both chambers would be under pressure to act on it before stopgap appropriations expire on Dec. 16.

The Fiscal Year 2010 Federal Budget on Agenda

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.

House Appropriations Committee Work Begins

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.

Bill Passed Through the End of the Fiscal Year on Sept 30

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.

House Passes Budget Resolution that Would Cause Draconian Cuts in Medicaid and Other Safety Net Programs

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.

House Budget Resolution introduced; Includes devastating cuts and restructuring of disability programs

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: