Today the Senate returns from August recess, while the House remains on recess until next week. We are prepared for a very busy final quarter of 2023.
The first order of business for Congress is to fund the federal government. Otherwise, the government will shut down on September 30, 2023. The Senate has only 16 legislative days and the House a mere 11 days to prevent that. The House and Senate are in vastly different places on levels of funding for the government. As a result, a continuing resolution likely will be necessary to fund the government in the short term while negotiations continue on a year-long agreement. However, it remains to be seen if a short-term funding agreement can be reached in time, if emergency funding for Ukraine and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be included, or if a government shutdown could be coming as soon as the end of September.
Several healthcare extenders also need to be reauthorized by September 30, such as the community health center funding and delaying the cuts to the Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments. If a continuing resolution is enacted, these programs may receive short-term extensions as part of that process, as has happened in the past few years. While it is possible that the House moves a broad healthcare bill this month incorporating transparency, consolidation, pharmacy benefit manager reforms and extensions for expiring health programs, that effort would not cause the Senate to move quickly. Instead, stakeholders should keep expectations low on the healthcare front through September, as this month will be overwhelmingly focused on short-term government funding.