As expected, Senate Republicans last week blocked a procedural vote to begin formal deliberations on a bipartisan physical infrastructure framework. Republican senators opposed the legislative text because it is not final and, therefore, could not be scored by the Congressional Budget Office.
Senate lawmakers continue to negotiate the details of the framework. Additional information emerged over the weekend about potential policy changes to offset the cost of the framework. Media reports indicate lawmakers could use unallocated dollars from the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) and further extend the length of the 2 percent Medicare sequester cut to pay for the package. A recent report from the Government Accountability Office revealed the PRF contains more than $43 billion in unobligated funds. America’s Essential Hospitals previously joined with other national provider organizations urging Congress not to use PRF dollars to pay for infrastructure legislation.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats continue work to finalize a $3.5 trillion fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget resolution to address President Joe Biden’s “human infrastructure” priorities. Details for the resolution, which would serve as an outline for the Democrats’ expected budget reconciliation legislation, could be released this week.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) aims to pass the budget resolution and the bipartisan infrastructure bill before lawmakers adjourn for their next recess, scheduled to begin Aug. 9.
House Bill Would Add Nearly $40B to Hospital Preparedness Program
The House this week will consider several fiscal year (FY) 2022 appropriation bills, including a spending bill to fund the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education departments and related agencies. The spending bill would fund the Hospital Preparedness Program at nearly $320 million, an increase of more than $39 million from FY 2021. The Senate has not yet developed its version of a spending bill for the agencies.
Pandemic Hearings in Senate Committee
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will hold a July 27 hearing to examine lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on a path forward. The hearing will include testimony from David Janz, MD, director of medical critical care services at association member University Medical Center New Orleans.