Here's the scoop on what's happening this week in Congress.
Senate Appropriations Chairman, Richard Shelby, met with President Trump on Wednesday, May 20, to discuss the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) appropriations process, including how to address the rising costs of veteran’s health care. Following the meeting, Chairman Shelby decided to exempt the $11.3 billion for the veteran’s healthcare program from the FY21 budget caps, allowing more spending flexibility for the program. Exempting the veteran’s health care program will free up the funding for other discretionary funding, including higher allocations for the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee, where STD funding is decided. The House is expected to take-up a similar measure.
Last Friday, May 15, the House approved a package of voting changes that would allow proxy voting and authorize House committees to hold virtual hearings and meetings for 45 days, with the option of extending. Voting by proxy would allow members to send a letter, electronically, to the House Clerk authorizing another member to vote on their behalf.
A small group of Senate Republicans, including those in re-election races, are calling for the Senate to pass a fourth COVID-19 stimulus package, or at least lay out a path forward for passing the next stimulus before adjourning for recess next week. However, Senator McConnell has continued to state that the Senate needs to assess what is being done with the current stimulus funding before acting on a fourth stimulus bill.
The House will vote next week on bipartisan legislation to make the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) more flexible. The policy changes would give businesses more time to spend the loans and will no-longer require that three-quarters of the loan be spent on payroll to be eligible for loan forgiveness.