Healthcare Preview for the Week Of: September 19, 2022

Continuing Resolution Clock Ticks

The deadline to pass a continuing resolution is growing near. Congress’s priority for the next two weeks is to fund the government through a continuing resolution (CR). While currently there is no serious concern about reaching a CR deal in time, it appears that Congress will likely work right up to the September 30 deadline, as they often do.

There are a few items that are stalling the CR’s progress. On the healthcare front, the administration has requested additional COVID-19 funding, but this request is meeting Republican opposition and became even more challenging after President Biden stated, while appearing on the television program 60 Minutes on September 18, 2022, that “the pandemic is over.” There are also debates relating to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding and Ukraine aid.

The largest issue remains a proposal from Senator Joseph Manchin (D-WV). To secure Manchin’s vote on the Inflation Reduction Act, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) committed to considering a Manchin proposal that changes environmental permitting language, modifies the Clean Water Act and approves a gas pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia. Seventy-one House Democrats signed a letter opposing inclusion of this provision in a CR, and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and now Senator Edward Markey have also made clear their opposition. With tight margins in both the Senate and the House, there is little to no room for disagreement among Democrats.

Fifty days until the election. Members of Congress in the House and the Senate are itching to get on the campaign trail. Major legislative activity, beyond the CR, will be on hold until the lame duck session of Congress. What gets done during the lame duck session will be reflective of the election outcome and how the parties game out what they want to get done ahead of the 118th Congress.