Here's the scoop on what's happening this week in Congress
Though House Democrats have expressed that they expect all 12 Appropriations spending bills to hit the floor before August recess, they may encounter difficulty. House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Roybal-Allard expressed her subcommittee’s bill might not have enough support within her own caucus to pass the House. If so, it would be the second straight year for the subcommittee. This bill isn’t the only one in trouble but rather appropriations subcommittee bills “across the board.”
House Budget Chair Yarmuth and his Senate counterpart, Sen. Sanders are working through similar budget plans to avoid a time-consuming conference. The House plan considers more than $5 trillion in new spending over 10 years. There are some notable differences between the two proposals – one being the Senate’s included Medicare expansion proposal.
Earlier this week a bipartisan group of 21 Senators met with White House officials Louisa Terrell, Steve Ricchetti, and Brian Deese about negotiated infrastructure measures amounting to nearly $579 billion in new spending over five years. Following the meeting, the White House officials, alongside OMB Acting Director Young and DPC Director Rice met with Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Schumer to discuss the proposals and other proposed spending through reconciliation.
Sen. Portman expressed that support for the infrastructure proposal is growing beyond the bipartisan group of 21 senators despite criticism from Budget Committee Chair Sanders and the Biden Administration. Certain measures like the group’s proposed index gas tax inflation (i.e. a tax increase) has met resistance from the Biden Administration seeking to keep their campaign promise to not impose tax increases on individuals making less than $400,000 a year. Sen. Sanders also has similar frustrations with the bipartisan proposal and expressed he is unlikely to support regressive taxation proposals like raising the gas tax or the creation of an “infrastructure bank” revolving loan fund – which he says would essentially amount to the “privatization of infrastructure.”
By midweek, however, Senator Romney expressed that the bipartisan group of Senators reached an agreed framework they plan to take to the White House on Thursday.
Reps. DeGette and Upton announced that they will be hosting roundtables in June and July on their recently released Cures 2.0 draft bill – an updated version of the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act – that would touch nearly all parts of the US healthcare system. The Representatives expect a final draft to be released when Congress returns from its August break and the legislation on the President’s desk before the end of 2021. The updated version will include provisions directing HRSA and the CDC to establish a pandemic preparedness plan, $25 million per year for the CDC to fund a public education campaign on the importance of vaccines and vaccinations for Fiscal Years ’22-’24, authorize $25 billion in funding for independent research institutions, public labs, and universities.
The Biden Administration will miss its goal to have 160 million (or 70 percent) of US adults vaccinated by July 4th but nearly 144 million (or 65 percent) of US adults have received at least one vaccination.