Here's the scoop on what's happening this week in Congress
The House of Representatives is currently in recess and will return on June 14 and the Senate is in a Pro forma session until June 7.
President Biden and Republican Senator Capito met this week for the fourth time to resume negotiations on infrastructure legislation. Senate Republicans continue to insist that the legislation should focus on “hard” infrastructure proposals, like roads, waterways, and airports. Alternatively, Biden’s proposals include much broader priorities, like senior care, veteran’s hospitals, and schools. In determining how to pay for the infrastructure upgrades, the Biden team has called for undoing some of the 2017 corporate tax cut while Republicans call for repurposing unspent COVID-19 relief dollars. The clock is ticking. Earlier this week, the White House press office highlighted the President’s appreciation for Republicans’ willingness to engage in negotiations, “we do need to finish these negotiations soon.”
While Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough issued a new ruling, last week explaining that the same budget resolution used to pass the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan in March can be used a second time to trigger the fast-track reconciliation process for Biden’s two infrastructure spending proposals using Section 304 of the 1974 Budget Act to create multiple reconciliation bills within one fiscal year, it will not be as easy and may impact certain provisions within the American Jobs Plan and American Family Plan.
In other words, reconciliation cannot be used as a shortcut. Reconciliation cannot be used to avoid the regular legislative process, and there must be reasons beyond political expediency for triggering the majority threshold, such as an economic downturn. Additionally, if used, Democrats will have to start the process from the beginning if they want to pass more than one reconciliation bill – which means going back to the House and Senate Budget panels, passing new budget resolutions, and bringing them to the floor to potentially expose their most vulnerable members like Sens. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Maggie Hassan (D-NY) to face rough, politically motivated GOP-proffered amendments. It would also mean, for the Senate, a “vote-a-rama” for each budget resolution. Regardless, Senate Majority Leader Schumer remains sturdy in his desire to advance a finalized infrastructure bill in July.
President Biden released his $6 trillion Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget proposal last week. The proposal allocates a total of $1.6 trillion to the Department of Health and Human Services to focus on building a healthy America, including a proposal within the CDC to level-fund the Division of STD Prevention (DSTDP) and the Division of Hepatitis Prevention, and the Division of Adolescent and School Health.
While no increases to DSTDP’s base programming is disappointing, NCSD is thrilled and grateful for the Biden Administration’s recently announced $200 million a year increased funding, provided under the ARP, to rebuild and expand the disease intervention specialist (DIS) workforce for five years via direct allocations through DSTDP to PCHD grantees.
COVID-19 severely impacted our fight against STDs by disrupting care, treatment, and vital contact tracing efforts. More, not fewer, resources must be allocated to tackle the persisting surge in STD’s in addition to supporting the vital workforce dedicated to combatting the dueling pandemics. As such, we will continue to advocate for additional resources to fight and build back our public health infrastructure stronger than before.
Current, related CDC language provides:
“ CDC’s FY 2022 request of $161,810,000 for Sexually Transmitted Infections is level with FY 2021 Enacted. To address the substantial increases in the rates of STIs observed in 2019, CDC will continue to conduct STI surveillance and support states to conduct STI prevention and control activities, such as contact tracing. At the FY 2022 requested level, public health programs will continue to support disease intervention specialists as they follow up and respond to outbreaks. This funding level will also support training and educational materials for healthcare professionals, and studies to translate STI research to practice and to improve program delivery. CDC will also continue to work with state and local grantees to address rising numbers of congenital syphilis cases.”