Capitol Correspondence - 03.11.19

Budget Season is Here! President Releases Budget Requests, House Schedules Hearings on HHS Budget

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Congress is kicking off its budget planning for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 with hearings on the President’s budget requests to Congress, just released today to Capitol Hill. First steps in the House include two committee hearings on the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) budget. ANCOR is analyzing the President’s budget requests released today and we will report back to membership on key findings. Sneak peek: Politico has reported that, “The Office of Management and Budget said Sunday that the budget will call for a total of $2.7 trillion in spending cuts, a higher proposed reduction than any other administration in history.” Here’s more on that. Also Politico Morning Shift’s March 8 issue shared: “Expect big proposed cuts to the Labor Department. The Trump administration proposed a 9 percent cut for DOL last year, and a 21 percent cut the year before that. Lawmakers rebuffed both, maintaining mostly flat DOL funding.” Finally, Politico Pro shared: “President Donald Trump’s budget request envisions slashing HHS funding by 12 percent in 2020 to $87.1 billion, as part of sweeping cuts to domestic agencies across the federal government.”

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold its HHS budget hearing on March 12 at 2pm ET. The hearing will be filmed and video, as well as a witness list, will be available here. One witness of note will be HHS Secretary Alex Azar – we’ll be watching for any specific messaging impacting our space.

The House Appropriations Committee has scheduled its HHS budget hearing on March 13 at 2pm ET. The Committee shares more details and a link where the hearing can be streamed here.

In addition to general Medicaid discussions, one HHS-specific topic that ANCOR staff will be following is how Congress will react to HHS requesting to transfer funding from other programs, including disability programs, into its budget for holding migrant children at the U.S-Mexico border. While holding migrant children is an immigration policy enforced by Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE), HHS has jurisdiction over the actual care of the children. To meet those funding needs, HHS is planning to shift $7.3 million dollars away from the FY 2019 budget for the Administration for Community Living (ACL), whose work includes funding grants and supports for people with disabilities.

As a reminder, while the President proposes a budget as a guideline on what the White House wishes, Congress holds the power of the purse and determines what it allows to receive funding (authorizes) and how much it grants in funding (appropriates).  The final budget bills are then signed by the President to complete the budgeting process