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On the Hill: Congress Considers Appropriations, Minimum Wage, Expatriate Health Plans, Burwell

Congress returns this week after a two-week recess. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees will begin to mark up legislation this week, but expectations are low that all 12 bills will pass. Rather, in most cases, federal programs will likely continue to operate under a continuing resolution to extend funding past the Nov. 4 elections.

The Senate will take up a federal minimum wage bill to gradually raise the minimum from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2016, but the bill is not expected to get the 60-vote procedural threshold necessary to proceed.

The House will likely take up a bill that would exempt expatriate health plans from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The bill was originally voted on under suspension rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote because it was considered to be noncontroversial. But the bill failed to meet the threshold after House Democrat leaders opposed the bill, saying it would create a loophole in the ACA. The House will reconsider the bill under a simple majority.

Next week the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) will hold the first confirmation hearing for Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who is nominated for secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The HELP Committee will not vote on Burwell’s nomination, instead the Senate Finance Committee will vote after its confirmation hearing to send the nomination to the Senate floor.

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About the Author

Walsh is the senior manager of legislative affairs for America's Essential Hospitals.

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