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On the Hill: Appropriations, Zika, Opioids

House and Senate lawmakers returned to Washington this week after the July Fourth break, but their time in town will be brief: Congress is scheduled to be in session only two more weeks until legislators leave Washington through Labor Day.

Although lawmakers hope to get as much done as possible before the long recess, they’re unlikely to pass all 12 outstanding spending bills. To avoid a government shutdown, Congress might have to pass an omnibus appropriations measure if spending agreements are not reached by the end of the federal fiscal year, Sept. 30.

It also remains unclear if the chambers will agree on funding to combat the Zika virus. Last week, the Senate failed to pass a measure that would have provided $1.1 billion, significantly less than the Obama administration’s $1.9 billion request.

Negotiations also continue on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, legislation that would provide grants and take other measures to fight opioid abuse. The bill is expected to go into conference committee Wednesday. Outstanding concerns about the legislation include total funding amounts and whether to use it as a vehicle for other bills, such as 21st Century Cures or mental health legislation.

In committee business, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce holds a hearing July 7 to review the Advancing Care for Exceptional Kids Act, which would give states the option of providing coordinated care through a health home for children with complex medical conditions.

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About the Author

Jocelyn Wiles is the manager of legislative affairs at America's Essential Hospitals.

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