The official ACTS newsletter that reports on issues of importance to members, including news about membership, advocacy updates and grant opportunities.
A COVID-19 response deal remained elusive as the House, Senate, and White House continued to double-down on competing visions and spending priorities. The House has pushed a generous $2.2 trillion package featuring health policy changes, economic stimulus measures, and emergency spending for federal programs. The Senate has tried to advance a much narrower $500 billion proposal focused on small business relief, but failed to muster the necessary support to move forward. The White House has indicated a preference for a package that resembles the House proposals, but totals $2 billion or less. At this point, it appears unlikely that an agreement will be reached before the November 3rd elections.
The federal government is currently operating under a Continuing Resolution or “CR” that is keeping agencies and programs funded at their Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 spending levels until December 11th. Lawmakers plan to address final appropriations for FY 2021 during the Lame Duck legislative session at the end of the year. Adding further uncertainty to the process is the fact that the Senate has not yet released its FY 2021 spending bills (or even draft bills). While the House funding recommendations are known, the Senate will still need to negotiate final bills (and at this time Senate negotiating positions are not known).
Congress has also turned its attention back to healthcare policy. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in November. With the Court’s composition changing, lawmakers are unsure of what will be decided and how much responsibility will fall on Congress to pass new legislation providing various forms of coverage and access. Congress is trying to be prepared for a multitude of outcomes to ensure stability and some form of continuity in the healthcare system (if some form of legislative action is required).