Federal Update

December 3, 2021

Continuing to keep NYS Council members informed re:  federal budget negotiations:

Last night Congress avoided a government shutdown after Senate conservatives dropped their demands to reject the Biden vaccine mandates in the funding bill.All 100 senators agreed late Thursday nightto proceed to a bill funding the government through Feb. 18. The breakthrough came after Senator Schumer gave Republicans a vote (with a simple majority threshold) to defund federal vaccination mandates. He did so only because there were two Republicans absent, meaning that even if Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) sided with Republicans, the amendment wouldn’t make it.  Ultimately, the amendment was defeated by a vote of 48-50. According to Politico, Senator Schumer was all too willing to embrace the showdown over vaccines amid the threat of the Omicron Covid-19 variant. Plus, fellow Republicans blasted their demand as irresponsible and pointless.(Source:  Politico)

Shutdown crisis averted – for now.

December 2, 2021

Today, House appropriators reached a tentative agreement to extend level-funding for government programs through February 18, 2022. The current continuing resolution is set to expire Friday, December 3. As of 4:30 pm the House was still debating the measure and is expected to vote sometime in the next several hours. The stopgap measure extends several expiring authorizations (more below) but does not address looming spending cuts to Medicare programs resulting from the American Rescue Plan’s budgetary impact. The House and Senate would need to vote on this measure prior to tomorrow night to avoid any government shutdown.

Two provisions of note: The legislation includes two policy provisions of importance to National Council members: first, it extends the temporary classification of fentanyl as a Schedule 1 drug through the new deadline of Feb. 18 and second, would extend enhanced Medicaid funding for the territories, excluding Puerto Rico.

What’s Next: While Congressional leadership is confident that the Continuing Reso will clear both chambers, a brief weekend shutdown cannot be ruled out at this point. Reports from Capitol Hill suggest disagreements with the Biden administration’s federal vaccine mandates could delay votes by tomorrow’s deadline. This issue could also place a pressure point on broader FY2022 spending talks, as both Democrats and Republicans still remain far apart on a topline deal.