The Senate opted to stay in session for an extra week during the August recess to advance an infrastructure package and the framework for a budget package. With the extra time, the Senate also considered three of its annual spending bills; Agriculture-FDA, Military Construction & VA (MilCon-VA), and Energy & Water. These bills provided increases for medical research, public health, and patient care programs, though not at the same levels as the House. For example, the Senate Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 MilCon-VA bill calls for a $67 million increase for the VA Medical and Prosthetic Research program, while the corresponding House spending bill calls for an $87 million increase.
The Senate is expected to markup its nine remaining FY 2022 appropriations bills, including its Labor-HHS-Education bill, when Senators reconvene in mid-September. The House has proposed $3 billion to House the new ARPA-H initiative at NIH and it will be interesting to see if the Senate follows the same approach. With a limited number of legislative days until the September 30th end of the current fiscal year, the House and Senate will need to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government operating as final FY 2022 appropriations measure are negotiated.
While the Senate stayed late, the House returned early from the August recess to pass the Senate’s budget framework and consider other high-profile legislative items. House action tees up consideration of the Senate-passed “hard infrastructure” package and advances negotiations on a sweeping budget deal.