Here's the scoop on what's happening this week in Congress
The Senate is out on recess and will resume legislative business on September 13, 2021
On Tuesday, the House – by a vote of 220-212 – adopted the $3.5 trillion budget resolution. House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, agreed to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure package on September 27 after days of negotiating with centrist Democrats. Earlier in the week, House Democrats couldn’t reach an agreement to move forward with the FY 22 budget resolution rule primarily due to prospective holdouts from ten moderate Democrats who announced an intention to abstain if the Speaker didn’t permit the Senate-passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill to move forward.
The speaker’s statement can be found here
After passing the bipartisan INVEST in America Act (H.R 3684) on August 10 in the Senate, congressional Democrats have turned their focus to FY 22 spending bills and reconciliation strategies. Current negotiations and proposals seek additional funding to include dental, vision, and hearing coverage under Medicare – a proposal from Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The plan also proposes funding for a program to expand Medicaid to the 12 states that still refuse to accept the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, “home and community-based services” for seniors, and an extension to the enhance Obamacare subsidies – currently funded for two years under the American Rescue Plan – that lower enrollee premiums.
Medicaid expansion has been a key priority for Democrats – including Sen. Warnock who represents Georgia – one of the 12 non-expansion states.
The CDC announced the creation of a new Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics. The Center will be funded with monies included in the American Rescue Plan Act. Members will include researchers from academic institutions and private companies. The Center will be charged with compiling data from public and private surveillance laboratories and collaborate with public health officials to coordinate the federal response to emerging disease threats. The initial staff of four includes epidemiologists and mathematicians from academia and the biotech sector, who will be tasked with implementing a plan to establish the center.
On Monday, the FDA granted full approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
This week Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the U.S. could have better control of the virus by next spring – if an “overwhelming majority” of the 85 million unvaccinated get the shot. His statements come despite a newly released CDC study that shows vaccine effectiveness against Covid-19 infection dropped from 91percent to 66percent once the Delta variant accounted for the majority of virus. “While we did see a reduction in the protection of the Covid-19 vaccine against the Delta variant, it’s still two-thirds reduction of risk,” lead author Ashley Fowlkes, an epidemiologist for CDC Covid-19 Emergency Response stated.
The Pentagon has also announced that it will order all members of the military to get vaccinated due to the surging and now dominant COVID-19 Delta variant.