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Capitol Correspondence - 09.17.18

Labor-HHS Funding Bill Text Finalized, FY19 Federal Budget Continues to Develop

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The House and Senate Appropriations Committees, which have been negotiating differences between various bills funding the federal government for Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19), have released the final text of the Labor-HHS funding bill (HR 6157). This version of the Labor-HHS bill, which will be combined with the bill funding the Defense department to reduce chances of a presidential veto, includes a roughly $2 billion increase in funding for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS oversees the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). You can learn more about the bill in the joint explanatory statement issued by the conference committee (the team of Congressional representatives compromising between the House and Senate bills).

This is part of a marathon effort by Congress to finalize the budget and negotiate at times significant differences between the House and Senate budget bills before the government runs out of funding on September 30. If the government runs out of funding it will have to shut down until compromise can be reached, putting federal and Congressional employees on furlough in the meantime. Congress has been vigorously seeking to avoid a shut down before the election, including sending the first budget “minibus” (smaller combination bill) to the president. The minibus funds the Departments of Veteran Affairs, nuclear programs, energy programs, Congressional operations and military construction. Additionally, to avoid a shutdown Congress has prepared a back-up plan to issue a stopgap measure (short-term funding bill) through December 7.

Politico Pro shares details on this plan:

“Capitol Hill spending leaders today announced plans for a stopgap funding bill through Dec. 7 if needed to stave off a partial government shutdown at the end of this month.

The continuing resolution will be attached to a ‘minibus’ fiscal 2019 spending package, H.R. 6157 (115), which includes funding for the Pentagon as well as the departments of Education, Labor and Health and Human Services.

‘It is merely a continuation of current levels with a few minor, technical adjustments,’ said House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.). A conference committee is meeting this morning to discuss the legislation.

The continuing resolution would apply to all agencies that have not otherwise received full-year funding by Sept. 30.”