Last week Congress voted to fund the federal government through Jan. 15, 2014, and raise the debt ceiling until Feb. 7, 2014, narrowly avoiding reaching the debt ceiling and defaulting on the nation’s debts. As part of the deal, Congress will start a budget conference committee headed by Senate and House Budget Committee Chairs Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). The committee will try to reconcile both chambers’ budgets passed earlier this year. If the committee does not come to an agreement by Dec. 13, Congress will have to reengage in a debate about raising the debt ceiling and extending the continuing resolution to continue funding the government.
This week, Washington is focused on healthcare.gov and ongoing enrollment in the health insurance marketplaces (exchanges). House committees are gearing up for hearings to investigate the technical challenges with healthcare.gov. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius confirmed early this week that she will testify on the first few weeks of healthcare.gov’s operation during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing sometime early next week.