The official ACTS newsletter that reports on issues of importance to members, including news about membership, advocacy updates and grant opportunities.
During the run-up to the August congressional recess (the ceremonially start to campaign season), Congress was unable to make progress on a variety of critical legislative items. Most notably, legislators could not find common group on a COVID-19 relief package. The House has advanced a comprehensive $3 trillion proposal while the Senate tepidly acknowledged a $1 trillion proposal. The disparity in funding coupled with differing priorities continues to slow the process to craft a final bill. More recently, Senate Republicans floated the idea of a “skinny” COVID-19 package. The reception to this idea has been mixed with some calling it a political stunt and others calling it a necessary stop gap measure.
The lack of progress on COVID-19 relief (which includes substantial potential funding for medical research and public health programs) also stymied the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 appropriations process. While the House has passed (most of) its annual spending measures, the Senate failed to advance its bills. It is possible the Senate will issue a “Chairman’s mark” or draft bills that indicate funding levels and priorities to initiate negotiations with the House. Given the timing though, it is widely expected that a continuing resolution or “CR” will be needed to extend funding for federal agencies beyond the October 1st start of FY 2021. Current feedback from Capitol Hill indicates that a CR may extend past the November election date with lawmakers revisiting FY 2021 funding following the election.
With the annual Democratic and Republican conventions taking place, there has been little progress on key legislative and policy issues during the month of August. Most critical items appear to be in a holding pattern until the lame duck congressional session at the end of the year. With limited legislative days remaining, a growing to-do list, and election year partisanship emerging, it is unclear at this time how key legislative items will be resolved at the end of the year. Expect more updates in the meantime!