Congressional leaders of both parties and the White House have been engaging in talks surrounding the 2018 federal budget, which is not yet complete. Currently the government is funded by a continuing resolution (CR), which is essentially a short-term extension of current funding levels – this current CR is set to expire on January 19th after Congress voted on a short extension right before the December holidays. Talks over the budget have been surrounded by intense debates on how to address the DACA immigration program, funding for U.S. disaster aid, and the stabilization of health insurance markets after the removal of the individual mandate through the tax bill. Because Democratic votes are necessary to obtain enough votes for budget measures under Congressional rules, Congressional Democrats have leverage to advance the aforementioned policies through the budget process by threatening a shut down. A shut down would mean that no government funds would be disbursed to non-critical programs until a resolution is found – for example, most federal agencies and Congressional offices would be limited to essential staff.
Complicating this chaotic landscape is Congress’ large to-do list for the first quarter of 2018:
- The GOP has address 5 critical health care policy issues, as outlined by the Hill – it is important to note that entitlement reform features on the list. While House Speaker Ryan and Senate GOP Leader McConnell have disagreements on whether entitlement reform is possible, with Ryan for it and McConnell unenthusiastic, entitlement reform remains a possibility that ANCOR is closely monitoring.
- Congressional Republicans are under pressure to deliver on the electoral promise of an infrastructure bill, which could take up a lot of oxygen on Capitol Hill in light of the 2018 elections.
- The CHIP program is fast running out of funding and needs re-authorization;
- The tax bill has many glitches which are still being uncovered and will likely need to be addressed both legislatively and administratively; and
- Financial reform might re-emerge as an issue as community banks face issues stemming from the Dodd-Frank reforms.
Given the amount of large and competing voices which will be clamoring for Congressional attention, it is important that ANCOR member remain vigilant and proactive about entitlement reform. ANCOR encourages members to reach out to their Congressional officials to inform them of the importance of Medicaid now. If you have questions about ANCOR’s legislative strategy and priorities or which offices you should focus on, please reach out to Sarah Meek, Director of Legislative Affairs, at [email protected]. For assistance with grassroots activities such as reaching out to Congressional offices, developing talking points, etc., please contact Doris Parfaite-Claude, Federal Advocacy and Research Manager, at [email protected].