The official ACTS newsletter that reports on issues of importance to members, including news about membership, advocacy updates and grant opportunities.
With the fiscal year coming to an end on October 1st and election year partisanship near all-time highs, Congress began working to swiftly enact a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government operating. Both parties and both chambers have indicated that they do not want to see the government shutdown and the House recently passed a “clean” CR with bipartisan support. The CR includes a handful of modest adjustments on health and education policy items, but largely maintains current (FY 2020) funding level until December 11th. The Senate is expected to pass the CR too indicating that lawmakers plan to revisit final spending bills for FY 2021 after the November election.
In regards to FY 2021 appropriations, the Senate has yet to advance (or even produce) annual spending measures. With time running out and a limited number of days on the legislative calendar, the Senate is expected to release some version of a Chairman’s mark to provide general guidance on preferred funding levels and annual priorities to facilitate negotiations with the House of Representatives on final spending bills. To date, the House has released its spending measures and passed nearly all FY 2021 bills, calling for robust increases in medical research funding and support for additional public health programs.
The main stumbling block preventing the Senate from addressing its FY 2021 spending bills is ongoing negotiations over another COVID response package. The House initially proposed $3 trillion in additional funding for the COVID-19 response while the Senate countered with $1 trillion. Subsequent Senate efforts to dig in on even less funding (including a $500 billion proposal) failed to gain traction. There are indications that bipartisan and bicameral negotiations with the White House are closing in on a final deal, but the political environment remains uncertain.