Deal on FY 2011 Budget Package Reached; Gov’t Shutdown Averted
Late Friday night, Lawmakers announced that they had reached a tentative agreement on a longer-term continuing resolution for the remainder of fiscal year 2011, averting a shutdown of the federal government, the Washington Post reports (Somashekhar/Kane, Washington Post, 4/9).
President Obama -- who helped broker the deal between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) -- said the package would include nearly $38 billion in spending cuts, which he described as the "biggest annual spending cut in history" (Herszenhorn/Cooper, New York Times, 4/9).
Lawmakers in recent weeks had been at odds over dozens of policy-based non-spending provisions -- known as riders -- including two in the House-passed FY 2011 CR budget bill (HR 1) that would cut off funding for the federal health reform law and Planned Parenthood (California Healthline, 4/8). Under the FY 2011 CR deal, those riders have been dropped, Politico reports.
Under the compromise, the two issues instead would be considered separately on the Senate floor at a later time, according to a summary of the deal released by Boehner's office. According to Politico, both measures are expected to fail in the Democrat-controlled Senate, which in February rejected a House-approved GOP bill (HR 2) to repeal the health reform law (Nather, Politico, 4/9).
Congressional aides said that new legislation reflecting the budget agreement would be written over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal reports. Lawmakers will have to pass the new bill before the week's end, when a stopgap measure intended to give lawmakers time to put the compromise into legislative text is set to expire (Boles, Wall Street Journal, 4/10).
More Details About the Agreement
The $38 billion in cuts from previous spending levels across a variety of domestic discretionary programs are expected to include $13 billion from HHS, labor and education departments, according to White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer.
Although NIH would be spared a $500 million cut to biomedical research, plans to double the funding for research and development at the National Science Foundation and other agencies would be scaled back, CQ Today reports (Friel, CQ Today, 4/10).
In addition, the agreement would require several federal studies sought by Republicans on the effects of the health reform law, according to CQ Today. The probes likely will focus on the waivers that the Obama administration has granted to limited-benefit health plans, funding allocated for comparative effectiveness studies and the costs to hire contractors to implement the law (Ethridge, CQ Today, 4/9). According to Politico, GOP lawmakers likely will use the findings of the studies to maintain "their drumbeat of criticism" of the overhaul (Politico, 4/9).
The broader budget plan also involves cuts to mandatory programs whose budgets are not subject to the annual appropriations review in Congress. The health care-related cuts include:
- $3.5 billion in unused funds for the Children's Health Insurance Program; and
- $2.2 billion allotted for subsidies for health care cooperatives (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 4/9).
The compromise plan also would block funding for the Internal Revenue Service to implement certain provisions of the health reform law and eliminate funding for a provision that would have allowed low-income workers to opt out of their employer-sponsored plans and obtain coverage through the state-based health insurance exchanges (Friel, CQ Today, 4/9).
Democrats Yield to GOP on Abortion Funding for D.C.
Although Obama reiterated last week that negotiations on the broader budget measure should not center on contentious social issues, such as abortion, the agreement does not "completely sidestep" the issue, Politico reports.
Although the compromise does not block funds for Planned Parenthood, it does ban local and federal funding for abortions in the District of Columbia (Budoff Brown, Politico, 4/9).
The D.C. abortion funding provision previously was included in a House GOP proposal for a one-week stopgap CR bill (HR 1363), which Senate Democrats rejected, citing the provision (California Healthline, 4/8).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.