Buckle Your Seatbelts; It May Be A Bumpy Ride
The first December deadline Congress faces is on Friday. The current Continuing Resolution (CR) funding the federal government expires on December 3. Democrats and Republicans are negotiating for an extension of the CR through mid-to-late January. This will allow Congress to focus on other pressing items during the month of December. Whether additional items get added to the CR, like changes to pending Medicare cuts, remains to be seen.
A CR is one of the best opportunities for Congress to attach legislation addressing items such as the 2% Medicare sequester, PAYGO requirements resulting in a 4% Medicare payment cut, and the proposed 3.75% cut to physician fee schedule payments. If this vehicle is not used, these provisions become more challenging to pass this year. However, the bipartisan concern over these issues remains. If not done in this CR, it is possible they could be addressed in January instead.
That pesky debt limit. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin has warned Congress for several months that the U.S. was quickly approaching the limit, and the need to raise it was imminent. The current target date is December 15. While neither party wants to see the impacts of inaction would have on the economy — particularly the stock market — Republicans stand firm that it is something Democrats should address because of the contribution that recent high price tagged legislation has had on the debt limit. We know that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have met to discuss this issue – but that’s about it on the details at this point.
What happens to the Build Back Better Act now? All eyes remain on Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Things were relatively quiet over the break but expect some significant jockeying in the days and weeks ahead. Additionally, staff are beginning to meet with the Senate Parliamentarian’s office to determine what may have to come out of the House-passed version due to Byrd Rule requirements.
Bottom line: While the first of several big issues Congress is facing this month is anticipated to go relatively smoothly, the fate of the remaining items is very unclear.
LISTEN HERE: Congress is back in session with all eyes focusing on funding the government. Debbie Curtis and Rodney Whitlock explore the options lawmakers have to authorize spending, extend the debt limit and pass the President’s economic agenda.