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Capitol Correspondence - 08.04.20

FY21 Medicaid Appropriations Bills Pass in the House

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While the appropriations process governing how the federal government is funded has not received as much media attention as it normally would due to the focus on COVID-19 funding, the process is nevertheless advancing in the House. Of note to our readers, the House passed legislation that would fund the Departments of Labor, Education and Health & Human Services (HHS), and the HHS appropriation includes funding for the Medicaid program for Fiscal Year 2021.

As reported by Politico Pro:

“The House approved a colossal $1.3 trillion spending package today that includes $210 billion in emergency money to help federal agencies fight the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to funding other priorities.

The lower chamber cleared the six-bill bundle in a 217-197 vote. The legislation, H.R. 7617 (116), would fund the vast majority of the federal government next fiscal year, boosting budgets at the Pentagon and the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Homeland Security, Justice, Transportation, Energy and more.

The package also includes billions of dollars in off-the-book spending for state and local public health departments, public health prevention efforts, medical research, infrastructure, public housing and more.

The legislation has no shot in the Republican-controlled Senate and President Donald Trump has already threatened to veto it. But it still represents an opening offer from House Democrats in negotiations to pad federal agency coffers in fiscal 2021 and avoid a catastrophic government shutdown at the end of this fiscal year, which is on Sept. 30.

Meanwhile, the appropriations process is totally stalled in the Senate, with Democrats and Republicans bickering over whether to include emergency coronavirus cash in their annual spending bills. Congress is at an impasse over how to deliver another tranche of pandemic relief as unemployment ticks up and infections spike across the country. Combined with election year politics, lawmakers are likely on track to pass a short-term spending fix to keep the government open past Election Day.”

Good to know as you plan your 2021 advocacy: With Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY) set to retire this year, 2021 will see a change in the Committee’s leadership. As reported by Politico Pro, “Three subcommittee leaders — Reps. Rosa DeLauro, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Marcy Kaptur — are vying to replace retiring Chair Nita Lowey, the first woman to lead the influential committee. And the contest is heating up after months of quiet jockeying, which briefly paused because of the pandemic and as Lowey wrapped up her farewell appropriations tour.”