Capitol Correspondence - 01.21.18

Federal Government Shuts Down As Congress Fails to Vote on Budget Extension

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ANCOR members will have seen from our Friday and Saturday postings on the ANCOR Connected Community (ACC) that the federal government is shut down this week due to Congress not coming to an agreement over legislation to fund it. Essential programs will continue to operate this week, albeit it with a skeleton crew of employees deemed essential. Non-essential employees will be on furlough (note that federal employees on furlough are forbidden from conducting any government business including emails and calls). To give ANCOR members an idea of the scale of the shutdown, Politico Pro has shared that 90 percent of the Department of Education is expecting to be on furlough this week, though this will vary by Department.

The Senate is scheduled to vote at 12pm ET today on a continuing resolution that would fund the government through February 8th and reauthorize CHIP for six years. Click here to follow the negotiations live from The Hill.

What Does This Mean For Providers?

Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and Disability programs are deemed essential and will be largely unaffected by the shutdown – beneficiaries will continue to receive benefits.

However, Administration for Community Living (ACL) programs will not receive funding for many of its programs, including:

  • Protection and Advocacy for persons with developmental disabilities;
  • Independent Living Centers and services;
  • Senior Nutrition;
  • Native American Nutrition and Supportive Services;
  • Prevention of Elder Abuse and Neglect; and
  • The Long-term Care Ombudsman.

Find out more through the Department of Health and Human Services’ shutdown contingency plan, accessible online here.

What happened?

Originally, the House of Representatives passed a short-term extension that would have kept the government open until February 16th and funded CHIP for 6 years. However, that bill collapsed in the Senate where it would have required a 60-vote majority to pass. Senate Republicans narrowly control the Senate with a 51 vote majority and would have required Democratic Senators’ support to pass the bill. Talks between Senate Republicans and Democrats and the White House collapsed over deep disagreements on the DACA program, which Democrats asked to see action on in order to give their support to the funding bill. While multiple proposals came up on both sides of the aisle in the frantic 24 hours before the shutdown, the last proposal both sides considered before the shutdown was voting on the funding extension with CHIP included, if GOP Congressional leadership would commit to bringing up a separate DACA bill in both the Senate and the House. While Senate GOP Leader McConnell expressed some openness to the proposal, he refused to bind House Speaker Ryan to a Senate agreement. Speaker Ryan had previously refused House Democratic Leader Pelosi’s proposal to bring up two bills on immigration for a vote at the same time as the spending bill that passed the House. The two bills were a conservative bill sponsored by Congressman Goodlatte (R-VA) and a bipartisan bill by Congressmen Hurd (R-TX) and Aguilar (D-CA). As mentioned above, negotiations between Congressional Republicans and Democrats and the White House are resuming and on-going, with the President cancelling a scheduled trip to his property in Mar-a-Lago, Florida. The President said on Saturday that he would not leave Washington D.C. until government is funded and he also Tweeted his refusal to negotiate on immigration until the government is funded. 

Over the weekend, Senate Democrats and Republicans continued to negotiate a solution with no success. Moderates from both parties, including Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Manchin, Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Durbin, Mark Warner (D-VA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), believe they may be close to a deal that would fund the government in the short term but not include a fix for the DACA program. At present, we are unsure that this vote would pass as hardliners in both parties remain publicly dug in on their positions.