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On the Hill: Highway Bill, Omnibus, Reconciliation

With the end of the calendar year just one month away, Congress returns from Thanksgiving recess with two must-pass pieces of legislation on its agenda.

First, lawmakers are working on an agreement to pass a long-term highway funding bill. Before the recess, Congress passed a short-term funding patch that is set to expire this Friday. Congress also is expected to vote on the omnibus appropriations package by Dec. 11, when current funding under a continuing resolution expires.

While not “must pass” legislation, like the omnibus or highway funding bills, the Senate also is working to pass budget reconciliation legislation, following House passage earlier this fall. Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) intends to retain a House policy rider that would block taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood for one year. The reconciliation bill also would likely seek to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA); special rules for the reconciliation process prevent attempts at a full repeal.

It remains unclear whether McConnell has the 51 votes necessary to pass the reconciliation bill. Conservative senators have vowed to vote only for bills that fully repeal the ACA, while several moderate Republicans have concerns about the Planned Parenthood provision. If McConnell can find the necessary votes, the Senate is expected to vote on the reconciliation bill this week.

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About the Author

Walsh is the senior manager of legislative affairs for America's Essential Hospitals.

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