Will an Omnibus Ever Materialize?
Short Term CR Vote Scheduled in House for this Week. Congress acknowledges the need to enact a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to provide House and Senate appropriators a little more time to complete a deal. The CR will extend to March 11th and is expected to be considered on the House floor tomorrow (February 8th), with Senate consideration thereafter. This vote is necessary this week as the House is not scheduled to be in session next week.
In terms of any kind of COVID-19 supplemental, appropriators have made it clear that they will not be considering any supplemental appropriations bills until the FY2022 budget negotiations are complete. It’s also unclear what, if any, supplemental requests the Biden Administration will ask for and whether Congress will be inclined to go along with those requests.
Finally, we saw some developments last week that lead us to believe that the Biden Administration and Congress are starting to think about what’s next on healthcare or what else they need to be pursuing in addition to mitigating COVID-19. On Wednesday, February 2nd, President Biden relaunched the Cancer Moonshot with the goal of reducing cancer rates by at least 50 percent over the next 25 years. This week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) and the future of biomedical research. It’s still unclear what shape or impact either of these initiatives will take, but it’s clear that President Biden and Congressional Democrats are expanding their healthcare agenda for 2022.
Bottom line: Congress has more time to reach consensus on the appropriations package with March 11th the expected new deadline, presuming House and Senate passage of this short-term CR.
The House will take up a stop-gap funding bill in the coming week to avoid the February 18th deadline of a government shutdown. Debbie Curtis and Rodney Whitlock return to discuss the challenges Democrats face in passing the third bill to extend funding the government.