Congress Passes FY 2011 Budget Bill, Sends Measure to President
On Thursday, Congress approved the new compromise fiscal year 2011 continuing resolution bill (HR 1473), ending the long-running debate on federal funding for the remainder of the current budget year, the Washington Post reports (Kane/Rucker, Washington Post, 4/14).
The measure drew bipartisan support in both chambers with a 260-167 vote in the House and an 81-19 vote in the Senate.
President Obama has pledged to sign the bill (Carter/Lesniewski, CQ Today, 4/14).
Details of Budget Agreement
Late last week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that they had reached an agreement with the White House on a FY 2011 CR.
Lawmakers for weeks had been at odds over dozens of policy-based non-spending provisions -- known as riders -- in the House-passed FY 2011 CR budget bill (HR 1), including two GOP-preferred riders to cut off funding for the federal health reform law and Planned Parenthood.
The compromise CR would cut about $38 billion in discretionary and mandatory spending from current levels through September and affect a range of federal programs, including health care and provisions in the health reform law.
About $20 billion of the overall spending reductions would come from domestic discretionary programs, while $17.8 billion would be cut from mandatory programs. Those cuts include the nearly $12 billion in reductions that Congress approved in the recent stopgap CR bills.
In addition, more than half of the total spending cuts would affect health, labor and education programs.
Although the compromise CR bill was expected to pass in both chambers, several conservative and liberal House members expressed concerns over a recent analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, which found that the measure would cut federal spending in FY 2011 by just $352 million, or less than 1% of the estimated savings that congressional leaders expected (California Healthline, 4/14).
House and Senate GOP Lean on Democrats for Bill's Passage
According to Politico, Boehner on Thursday acknowledged that the CR bill "is not perfect," while he noted later in a meeting with House GOP members before the vote that it "is the best we could get out of divided government" (Rogers, Politico, 4/14).
Faced with the prospect of losing 59 Republican votes, House GOP leaders sought the assistance of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who helped secure 81 Democratic votes for the measure (Berman, The Hill, 4/14).
Hoyer, who also voted for the bill, said he wanted to avert a potential federal government shutdown and enable the House to "move on and address" other pressing domestic issues, such as the next fiscal year budget (CQ Today, 4/14).
In the Senate, 48 Democrats, 32 Republicans and one independent -- Sen. Joseph Lieberman (Conn.) -- voted for the CR bill's passage (Espo, AP/Denver Post, 4/15).
House OKs, Senate Rejects Health Reform and Planned Parenthood Defunding Riders
As part of the agreement on the FY 2011 CR with Republicans, Democrats promised to hold separate votes on the policy riders that would cut off funding for the health reform law and Planned Parenthood, the New York Times reports (Steinhauer, New York Times, 4/14).
The House voted 241-185 to approve the provision to block federal funding for Planned Parenthood and 240-185 to approve the provision to withhold funding for the overhaul. The measures -- which had been attached as enrollment resolutions to the compromise CR bill -- both failed in the Democratic-led Senate (Adams, CQ HealthBeat, 4/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.