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On the Hill: Congress Shifts Focus to Debt Ceiling

Congress passed a short-term continuing resolution to fund the government through Dec. 3, avoiding a shutdown. Due to continued Republican opposition, the bill does not extend the federal debt limit.

A Republican filibuster in the Senate prevented passage of House-passed legislation to extend the debt limit through December. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), explained the Department of Treasury can maintain current financial measures through Oct. 18; Congress must resolve the issue by that time to avoid default.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Congress should raise the debt ceiling by the end of this week. Budget reconciliation could offer one path forward, but it is unclear how using this method would impact the “human infrastructure” package. Republicans continue to push Democrats to work alone and raise the debt ceiling through the reconciliation process, but Democrats remain concerned this pathway could take too long, potentially exceeding the Oct. 18 deadline.

Stalemate on Infrastructure Bills

Moderate Democrats continue to advocate for a smaller reconciliation package. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has argued the human infrastructure bill should not exceed $1.5 trillion. With the Senate equally split between the two parties, the bill cannot pass if one Democratic vote is lost.

Meanwhile, a House vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan physical infrastructure bill was delayed last week due to insufficient support among progressive Democrats, who first want clarity on the path forward for the reconciliation bill.

President Joe Biden on Friday noted the two infrastructure bills are linked, agreeing that details on the reconciliation bill should be clearer before passing the physical infrastructure bill. However, he noted progressives must be willing to compromise on policies in the human infrastructure bill. Biden said he expects the final reconciliation package to cost between $1.9 trillion and $2.3 trillion.

Congressional Schedule

The Senate remains in session, while the House is in a committee work period through Oct. 18.

Of note to essential hospitals, a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation subcommittee will hold an Oct. 7 hearing to examine the state of telehealth, focusing on removing barriers to access and improving patient outcomes.

Fall Policy Assembly

America’s Essential Hospitals invites you to join us online for our fall Policy Assembly, Oct. 19–20. Attendees will gain insights on the status of the reconciliation legislation and the outlook for essential hospital advocacy priorities for the remainder of the year. Register today!

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About the Author

Christina Fagnano is the legislative affairs associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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