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DEC22

Congress Passes Another Continuing Resolution, Funding the Government Until Jan 19th

Congress has again managed to scrape together a bill (HR 1370) to avoid a government shutdown at the very last minute, with Senators voting 66-32 to approve the roughly four-week continuing resolution (CR).

With last night’s passage of Congress’ third short term funding deal which also averts “pay-go,” a rule requiring that Congress pay for its measures or cut spending, the government will stay open through Jan. 19. In the Senate unlike the House, where the stopgap bill passed on a party line vote, Senate Majority leadership needed the support of at least eight Democrats to get the 60 votes needed to overcome procedural hurdles. The measure, which would simply continue most current funding also includes a temporary funding renewal of $2.85 billion for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) until March 31st and $550 million specifically for Community Health Centers, lasting through June 30.

It must be noted that the $2.85 billion for CHIP may be inadequate to carry states through March, the program costs roughly $14 billion per year. The extension is partially paid for by a $750 million cut to the Prevention and Public Health Fund beginning with a $100 million cut in FY 2019.  AIDS United has opposed the use of this fund for non-prevention related purposes. 

The focus is now back on the still-unresolved policy issues such including budget and appropriations deals for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, particularly to settle defense vs. non-defense discretionary spending levels; raising the nation’s debt ceiling; finalizing the remainder of FY 18 spending and, for Democrats,  seeking a deal to avert the potential deportation of “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children.  There are also calls to stabilize the ACA's shaky markets, which will likely be heightened by the robust enrollment period that just closed.

The President also has unfinished business, including a major infrastructure bill he deems necessary, before the 2018 elections.  Given the volume of work in Congress and opposition by conservatives to additional spending this priority seems unlikely to advance. 

For our part, AIDS United will seek to hold the Congress and Administration accountable in the new year as they seek to finalize a spending package beyond January, and tackle the above mentioned legislative tasks.  It seems the U.S. government, like an overwhelming majority of the American people cannot help but live pay check to pay check. However, unlike the American people, it is completely within the control of our elected officials to plan accordingly, develop consensus and responsibly fund our government. We will continue to advocate funding levels that protect all Americans, including immigrants, People Living with HIV and our nation’s most vulnerable. 

 



Posted By: AIDS United, Policy Department - Friday, December 22, 2017



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