The Clock is Ticking on the Deadline for Funding the Government
As Congress returns from a one-week break, all eyes are on progress toward a FY 2022 funding bill. The current Continuing Resolution (CR) runs through February 18, 2022. House and Senate appropriations staffers have been meeting over the past few weeks and seem to be inching toward a top-level funding agreement. However, policy issues remain. A short-term CR (at a length to be determined) is likely, but the desire on both sides for Omnibus legislation remains.
We are also anxiously awaiting to see an outline of the Administration’s priorities for a COVID-relief package. Presumably, it will include additional dollars for testing and vaccines but may also include funding for providers. How it may be received by some in Congress is the true question. Without a precise accounting for all of the previous funding provided for these purposes, some Republicans may reject the argument that more money is needed when it isn’t clear how much has been spent. Irrespective of when the proposal is received, there is very little time left for it to be included in any type of Omnibus or short-term CR legislation, given the tight timeframe.
And then there’s the Supreme Court. Justice Breyer’s retirement announcement last week provides an opening for President Biden to reenergize his base at a time some may be feeling a little defeated (the Build Back Better Act is still in the same place). The President remains committed to appointing an African-American female, making history. He’s also committed to announcing his pick in February. Although the nomination will only require 50 votes (plus the Vice-President to break the tie), expect a drawn-out process and for Republicans to put up a fight regardless of who the pick is.
Bottom line: While there will be lots of healthcare activity in committees, we are still in a sit and wait game on significant movement on Build Back Better health care priorities.
The countdown continues for Congressional leaders to work on a plan to fund the government beyond the February 18th deadline. Debbie Curtis and Rodney Whitlock discuss the narrow window for negotiations on passing an omnibus spending bill and what healthcare key initiative in the BBB could become a dynamic issue in the mid-term elections.