Congress Returns to Long To-Do List
Congress is back in session with a long list of time-sensitive issues to address, including:
- Funding the government beyond Jan. 19 when the current continuing resolution expires;
- Renewing funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP);
- Renewing funding for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program; Community Health Centers; Family to Family Information Centers; Personal Responsibility and Education Program (PREP), and other expired programs;
- Reaching a deal on lifting the budget caps and passing fiscal year 2018 appropriations into law; and
- Passing another disaster aid package for states and territories impacted by recent hurricanes and wildfires.
Also in the mix are negotiations to address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for young undocumented immigrants and President Trump's push to provide funding for a border wall.
It is unclear how these issues will play out in the coming weeks. Congress might conclude its work on several of these items as part of a spending bill before the continuing resolution runs out, or it could pass another continuing resolution (and potentially delay substantive action on the rest of the to-do list) to give members more time to negotiate unresolved issues.
A refresher on what happened at the end of 2017:
- Another Continuing Resolution, Another Short-Term Fix for CHIP
President Trump signed into law another continuing resolution (CR) on Dec. 22 that will keep the government funded through Jan. 19. The CR included a short-term funding patch for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Community Health Centers to keep those programs funded through March 31. The CR did not include a long-term solution for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program; Family to Family Information Centers; or Personal Responsibility and Education Program (PREP), all of which technically expired on Sept. 30.
- Cuts to the Prevention and Public Health Fund
Unfortunately, the most recent continuing resolution also included a $750 million cut to the Prevention and Public Health Fund beginning in fiscal year 2019. This will mean added pressure on the appropriations process for that year unless Congress reaches a deal to increase the budget caps enough to allow funding of programs currently being allocated through the Prevention and Public Health Fund. AMCHP will continue its advocacy in favor of reauthorizing the aforementioned expired health programs as well as preserving the Prevention and Public Health Fund to ensure critical health programs receive the support they need.