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Capitol Correspondence - 03.08.22

Congressional Conversations Over Budget Reconciliation Bill Begin Again

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Last week, President Biden delivered his first State of the Union address. In the speech, he acknowledged that a priority for his domestic policy agenda was to support home-based and long-term care. This is consistent with the President’s original Build Back Better plan, which included funding for the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) program, and was included in the House-passed budget reconciliation bill.

But without additional action from the Senate to pass a budget reconciliation bill, there will be no increased funding for the HCBS program. Last week, congressional negotiations over that budget reconciliation legislation were revived, including statements from Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) that he would support a revised bill that would lower the cost of prescription drugs and reverse some of the tax cuts created by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Manchin agreed to support these provisions as long as half of the revenue raised from those reforms is used to lower the deficit and fight inflation and the other half is spent on enacting new climate and social programs. Progressive Democrats in the House responded to Senator Manchin’s proposal by indicating they were open to negotiations.

The statements made last week about a revised budget reconciliation package do not reveal any formal legislative proposal, but they do indicate that there is still an opportunity to include funding for the HCBS program in a bill supported by all Senate Democrats. ANCOR remains committed to advocating for the inclusion of HCBS funding in a revised budget reconciliation bill.

Even though negotiations on the budget reconciliation bill are being revived, those negotiations will take a backseat to other congressional priorities for the next few weeks. This week, Congress’ focus is on passing an omnibus spending bill for Fiscal Year 2022 before the March 11 deadline when the current funding expires. And, the U.S. Senate is committed to moving forward the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for the U.S. Supreme Court during March and April. It is not likely there will be movement on the budget reconciliation bill until after that.