HomeWashington Letter2017 ▶ Congress Rushing to Finalize Government Funding, Children’s Health Insurance, Other Measures by Dec. 22
Congress Rushing to Finalize Government Funding, Children’s Health Insurance, Other Measures by Dec. 22

Congress is rushing to pass a number of must-pass bills before the holidays, beginning with a fiscal year (FY) 2018 spending measure to keep the government from shutting down. The current government spending measure keeping all government programs, including the NIH and CDC, expires on Dec. 22, 2017. Congress wanted to enact an overarching budget deal to increase defense and non-defense spending over two years which would have allowed them to finalize FY 2018 spending, but this looks unlikely. Instead Congress will pass another short-term measure that extends government spending into the first few weeks of Jan. 2018.

The House has introduced an appropriations bill to increase defense spending for the rest of the fiscal year and leave funding for non-defense programs funded at FY2017 levels through Jan. 19. While the bill can likely pass the House, it’s a non-starter in the Senate. If the House does pass the bill, it is expected that the Senate will make substantial changes or propose its own measure.

The other important measures that Congress must finalize before the end of the year include funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), funding for community health centers and passage of legislation to stabilize health insurance markets. The CHIP money restoration is particularly critical as many states such as California, Colorado, Oregon and Minnesota will run out of funding for their CHIP programs within the next few months if Congress does not restore it.  CHIP insures about nine million children in all states across the country in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.  The ATS sent a letter to Congress last week urging enactment of legislation to renew CHIP for five years.

Senate Republicans also intend to try to pass legislation that Sen. Collins (R-ME) sought in exchange for her vote to support the tax bill, which would help stabilize the individual health insurance market by restoring ACA’s cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers, which the Trump administration ended in October. However, House Speaker Ryan and Conservative House members signaled last week that they will not support this bill. Meanwhile, Democrats are pushing for passage of legislation to address young immigrant “Dreamers,” which House Conservatives also oppose. These last two issues are significant sticking points to resolution of all of these measures before the end of the year.

Last Reviewed: December 18, 2017