Senators continue to craft legislation, based on the bipartisan physical infrastructure framework, that can win the 60 votes needed for Senate approval, but they still need to agree on key details — including how to pay for the $1 trillion plan.
To accelerate deliberations, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) took initial steps yesterday to set up a preliminary vote Wednesday on the infrastructure framework. It is unclear if Senate Republicans, including those involved in drafting the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, will support this procedural step if negotiations are not completed by Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are simultaneously developing a legislative package to address President Joe Biden’s “soft or human” infrastructure priorities. The Democratic members of the Senate Committee on the Budget last week announced they had agreed on a $3.5 trillion budget resolution for fiscal year (FY) 2022 that also would provide a pathway to pass the soft infrastructure priorities through the budget reconciliation legislative process.
Schumer instructed Democratic senators to complete the budget resolution by this Wednesday. While the resolution will be light on details, reports indicate it would allow the president and congressional Democrats to achieve key health priorities, such as expanding dental, hearing, and vision in Medicare; providing health insurance to those who otherwise would be eligible for Medicaid had their state expanded the program under the Affordable Care Act; and lowering prescription drug prices. Critical details on how Democrats plan to carry out these policies will be forthcoming as the budget resolution and subsequent budget reconciliation legislation are developed.
HHS FY 2022 Proposed Budget Markup
On July 15, the House Committee on Appropriations held a markup of the FY 2022 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education spending bill. The legislation includes $253.8 billion in funding for education, child care, maternal health, mental health and substance abuse research, and efforts to address health disparities while also bolstering public health infrastructure. Notably, the House bill would fund the Hospital Preparedness Program at nearly $320 million in FY 2022, an increase of more than $39 million.
Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Markup
Also on July 15, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held a hybrid hearing to mark up various health-related bills. Several bills supported by America’s Essential Hospitals were marked up during the hearing, including:
- H.R. 925, the Data to Save Moms Act of 2021;
- H.R. 4387, the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act of 2021; and
- H.R. 2503, the Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2021.
All 19 bills considered were favorably reported to the full Committee on Energy and Commerce by voice vote.
Hearings of Note
On July 20, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held a hearing to examine the federal perspective on COVID-19, specifically on the path forward.
On July 21, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will convene to mark up a series of health and cyber security bills, including H.R. 4387, the “Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act of 2021,” which has been endorsed by America’s Essential Hospitals.