Congress OKs Bill To Avert Gov’t Shutdown, Maintain Budget Cuts
The House on Thursday voted 318-109 to approve a Senate-amended continuing resolution extension bill (HR 933) that would fund the federal government through Sept. 30 and avert a government shutdown on March 27, when the current CR expires, Politico reports (Rogers, Politico, 3/21).
The measure now goes to President Obama for his signature (Helderman, Washington Post, 3/21).
On Wednesday, the Senate voted 73-26 to approve its version of the CR bill, which was attached as an amendment to the House version that was passed Thursday, the New York Times reports (Peters/Weisman, New York Times, 3/20).
Details of Continuing Resolution Measure
The Senate spending bill builds on the House-approved continuing resolution extension bill (HR 933), which maintains the $85 billion in spending cuts under sequestration that took effect March 1 and includes a 2% reduction to Medicare reimbursement rates. The Senate version also leaves the sequestration cuts intact, albeit with specific appropriations to non-health funding (Cox, "Floor Action Blog," The Hill, 3/20).
Like the House-approved version, the Senate proposal does not include a White House request for an additional $1 billion to implement the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges and other provisions. It also would cut $10 million in funding for the ACA's Independent Payment Advisory Board.
In addition, the Senate bill would increase NIH funding by $71 million and would provide FDA with an additional $12.8 million to implement the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act. The FDA language also would allow the agency to spend $40 million in fees it is collecting from medical device and diagnostic companies (Daly, Modern Healthcare, 3/20).
The Senate also approved an amendment by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) that would transfer $55 million in agriculture funding to prevent furloughs among food safety inspectors.
Overall, House Republicans seem satisfied with the Senate's changes, which will be added as an amendment to the House measure (Helderman, Washington Post, 3/20). The House is expected to pass the measure as early as Thursday (Cox, "Floor Action Blog," The Hill, 3/20).
House Rejects Conservative Budget
In related news, the House on Wednesday voted 104-132 to reject an alternative fiscal year 2014 spending blueprint by the conservative Republican Study Committee, the Washington Post's "Post Politics" reports (O'Keefe, "Post Politics," Washington Post, 3/20).
The RSC spending blueprint -- written by Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) -- would have eliminated the federal deficit and achieved a balanced budget in four years, in part by phasing in provisions included in House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget proposal to turn Medicare into a premium-support system five years earlier and gradually raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 70 beginning in 2024. In addition, the proposal included Ryan's plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (California Healthline, 3/19).
The measure failed, with 171 Democrats voting present (Kasperowicz , "Floor Action Blog," The Hill, 3/20). Ahead of the vote, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) encouraged other Democrats to vote present in the hope that Republicans would approve the measure on their own, which Hoyer said would show U.S. residents "just how extreme the Republican conference truly is" ("Post Politics," Washington Post, 3/20).
House Votes Down Democratic Caucus Budget Proposal
In other House news, members voted 165-253 to reject a FY 2014 budget proposal by House Budget Committee Democrats, with every Republican member voting against the measure, The Hill's "Floor Action Blog" reports (Kasperowicz , "Floor Action Blog," The Hill, 3/20).
The House Democratic plan -- by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) -- would have reduced the federal deficit by $1.8 trillion over a decade. It would have achieved a balanced budget by 2045 with $1.2 trillion in new tax revenues and $624 billion in spending cuts, which did not include any spending reductions to Medicare and Medicaid. In addition, Van Hollen's plan would have replaced the nine years of mandated spending cuts under sequestration, which took effect March 1 (California Healthline, 3/19).
House Votes Against Senate Democrats' Budget Proposal
Meanwhile, the House voted 154-261 to reject Senate Democrats' FY 2014 budget proposal, with 35 Democrats voting against the measure, The Hill's "Floor Action Blog" reports (Kasperowicz , "Floor Action Blog," The Hill, 3/20).
The Senate Democratic proposal -- written by Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) -- would have reduced the federal deficit by $1.85 trillion, including $275 billion in health care savings. Murray's proposal would have lowered the federal budget deficit to an amount equal to 2.2% of gross domestic product by 2023 through an equal mix of new tax revenues and spending cuts, including a $265 billion reduction to Medicare and a $10 billion cut to Medicaid. In addition, Murray's budget proposal would have replaced the $1.2 trillion mandated cuts under sequestration, including a 2% cut to Medicare reimbursement rates, with a mix of targeted spending cuts and new tax revenue (California Healthline, 3/19).
House GOP Expected To Pass Ryan's Budget Proposal
Meanwhile, House Republicans on Thursday are expected to approve Ryan's FY 2014 budget proposal, the AP/U-T San Diego reports (Taylor, AP/U-T San Diego, 3/20).
With all House Democrats expected to vote against the measure, just 15 House Republicans can vote against the measure for it to pass. As of Wednesday, three Republicans had publicly stated that they would vote against Ryan's plan, while 33 other GOP lawmakers were undecided or refused to comment, according to a whip count by The Hill (Hooper/Berman, The Hill, 3/21).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.