Little Progress Made on Long-Term Federal Budget Agreement
During last week's congressional recess, lawmakers and the White House did not make substantial progress on the next continuing budget resolution, as Democrats and Republicans are at an impasse over health care spending and other issues, CQ Today reports (Young, CQ Today, 3/25).
Congress recently approved a second stopgap CR bill (H J Res 48) to keep the government funded until April 8. Like the previous stopgap CR, the current package does not block funds for the implementation of the federal health reform law.
Health Care Spending
Last week, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) -- chair of the Republican Congressional Health Care Caucus -- said that the debate on the next CR will offer conservative lawmakers the opportunity of a "knock-down, drag-out" debate over funding for the federal overhaul.
Other Republicans have vowed that the next CR will include provisions to block funding for the reform law and Planned Parenthood, which were both included in the House-passed FY 2011 CR spending bill (HR 1).
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) recently warned the GOP to refrain from including any provisions to defund Planned Parenthood in the next CR. He said the policy rider "won't be part of an agreement." He noted that the defunding amendment is among a list of GOP-sponsored amendments in HR 1 that are unacceptable, adding, "Those that I focused on are not only no, but hell no" (California Healthline, 3/18).
In addition, White House officials have said President Obama would veto budget legislation that includes such cuts (CQ Today, 3/25).
Certain GOP members have said they are willing to risk a government shutdown to curb health spending, Roll Call reports.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) suggested that Obama might decide against vetoing a CR that includes defunding provisions for the reform law and cuts to Planned Parenthood. He said if Obama vetoes the CR, "then he shuts down the government," adding, "The president would have to be pretty brazen to do that in a fit of pique."
However, other Republicans, such as Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, said health spending disagreements will not result in a government shutdown.
Hatch said, "I don't think anybody's talking about" that. He suggested that enough initiatives to dismantle the reform law already are underway, including the development of repeal legislation and lawsuits challenging the overhaul's constitutionality.
Schumer Sees Progress, Potential Health Cuts
Despite the apparent impasse, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he believes the recess talks were productive.
Schumer said that there could be cuts beyond discretionary spending, including mandatory spending in the form of payments to drugmakers and other Medicare and Medicaid suppliers (Dennis, Roll Call, 3/25).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.