GOP Bill Aims To Avoid Government Shutdown, Maintain Spending Cuts
On Monday, House Republicans introduced a continuing resolution extension bill (HR 933) that would keep the federal government funded through September and maintain the $85 billion in spending cuts under sequestration, which include a 2% reduction to Medicare reimbursement rates, the Washington Post reports (Helderman, Washington Post, 3/4).
On Friday, President Obama signed an order to initiate the $85 billion in spending cuts for the fiscal year ending on Sept. 30. The mandated cuts are the first installment of nearly $1 trillion in across-the-board reductions.
Details of CR Proposal
The House's six-month stopgap CR proposal -- introduced by House Appropriations Committee Chair Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) -- would limit federal spending to $982 billion through September in order to avoid a federal government shutdown on March 27, when the current stopgap CR expires, Roll Call reports (Young, Roll Call, 3/4).
According to The Hill's "Healthwatch," the CR proposal does not include controversial riders that would defund any part of the Affordable Care Act, "to the chagrin of some conservatives" (Vieback, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/4). However, the bill also does not include several White House-supported plans, including one that would have secured additional funds to help establish state-based health insurance exchanges under the ACA (Rogers, Politico, 3/4).
Meanwhile, the Club for Growth -- a conservative pro-growth group that favors economic freedom -- has started circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter by Reps. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) urging lawmakers who oppose the ACA to reject the CR proposal ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/4).
The proposal likely could face a vote on the House floor on Thursday, according to the Post. Senate Democrats and Obama then must decide whether to accept the proposal or introduce a counterproposal in which they could seek greater flexibility in the mandated spending cuts to non-military domestic programs.
Obama has indicated that he might accept a new CR that maintains the sequester's across-the-board spending cuts through the end of the year, but noted that his top priority would be to avert a government shutdown (Washington Post, 3/4).
Obama Continues To Push for Budget Deal To Replace Sequester
Although Obama has turned his attention to efforts to avert a government shutdown, he also has launched an effort to reach a comprehensive deficit-reduction deal that includes new revenues by seeking the support of rank-and-file members of Congress, the New York Times reports.
Gene Sperling -- director of Obama's National Economic Council -- recently said Obama hopes to build on recent momentum for such an agreement as a strategy to pressure Republican leaders to accept a deal.
According to the Times, two influential Senate Republicans -- Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and John McCain (Ariz.) -- attended a wide-ranging meeting at the White House last week. Following the meeting, Graham emerged with a renewed call for a deficit-reduction deal that includes as much as $600 billion in new revenue and "revisits" the spending reductions under the sequester, the Times reports.
Graham noted that if Democrats are willing to "bend the curve on entitlements, I'm willing to do revenues" (Weisman, New York Times, 3/3).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.