Week Ahead: Mission (scheduled to be) accomplished for VA reforms By Matthew Weinstock | June 2, 2018 Where is the Geico camel when you need him? Hump Day will be a busy one in the nation's capital.
June 6 or 7: President Donald Trump is expected to sign into law the so-called Mission Act; sources differ on the exact day. This is the hotly debated and long-awaited set of reforms to the VA Choice program. Among other things, the act sets out new parameters for allowing veterans to seek care from community providers. Maybe the White House archivist can dig out the old "Mission Accomplished" banner.
June 6: The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health scheduled a hearing on reauthorization of the Pandemic and All-Hazardous Preparedness Act. A witness list was not available at deadline. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed its bill 22-1 in late May. Broadly, the act, which dates back to 2006, directs federal agencies to get ready for disease outbreaks or major catastrophes.
June 6: The House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee will delve into the growth and impact of so-called consumer-directed health plans. Beyond looking at enrollment and demographic trends—consultancy Mercer found that 29% of employees in 2016 were covered by a CDHP and that 72% of employers were set to offer CDHPs by 2019—Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) wants to explore options for expanding access to health savings accounts and the like.
June 6: HHS Secretary Alex Azar will be back on the Hill testifying before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. No details were available about the hearing, entitled "Examining Policies and Priorities at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services." Azar is the only scheduled witness.
All details on the 10 day limit I found said Sundays excluded (nothing about Saturday) but you're right, it makes sense that holidays would be excluded too.
That would be discriminatory against our Jewish legislators (of which I believe there are a few). And you'll note that both weekend days are not shown as active on the Congressional calendar. opkodd.com/post/33566
So apparently passing the VA Mission Act does not provide funds / appropriations. Providing appropriations will need to happen via a different mechanism. I presume that this means the contract cannot be awarded without the appropriations that fund what is authorized by the Mission Act law.
$50 billion is huge. I assume the money will go to administration and to private health care providers...
So The President wants cuts in other programs as Iceman notes above with his selection of cuts. I don't know what DJT's targets would be but I'll bet it would include Federal law enforcement and international intelligence agencies.. Let's wait and see.
BTW, the whole article came up on my phone when I googled "sources of funding for the VA bill". This could be a massive fight in DC.
House approves first 2019 spending bills BY NIV ELIS - 06/08/18 11:44 AM EDT 36 House approves first 2019 spending bills
The House on Friday approved its first three 2019 spending bills, packaged together in a “minibus.”
The bills passed on a mostly party-line vote of 235-179.
The three bills, Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, add up to $144.5 billion of the total $1.2 trillion in discretionary spending allowed by budget caps for 2019.
An additional $921 million was set aside in off-budget spending in the Military Construction bill.
“These bills provide funding to rebuild our military infrastructure, support military families, improve nuclear security, support our nation’s energy and water infrastructure, and assure the smooth and safe operations the Legislative Branch,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said.
While the minibus covers items that tend to be less controversial than those dealing with border security, health and labor, Democrats were upset by provisions in the bills they say cut funding from clean energy initiatives and expand gun rights on public land.
“This GOP minibus is the first step in Republicans’ plan to choke off funding increases for critical Democratic priorities for the health, education and economic well-being of America’s working families later in the appropriations process,” Democratic leadership wrote earlier in the week in a Dear Colleague letter urging a no vote.
Conservative groups have also expressed ire over spending levels, which rose $7.8 billion relative to 2018 in the three bills.
“If Congress was hoping to regain some credibility with Americans on spending, they’re not off to a very good start,” Americans for Prosperity Senior Policy Fellow Alison Acosta Winters.
Republicans and Democrats agreed to increased spending caps for 2019 as part of a two-year plan reached in March, which significantly boosted both defense and nondefense spending.
Paired alongside deep revenue cuts from the GOP tax bill, the spending has helped balloon the deficit.
On Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office found that the federal budget deficit for 2018 had reached $530 billion in the first eight months of the fiscal year, some 22 percent higher than the previous year.
In the upper chamber, the Senate Appropriations Committee has already approved the Energy and Water and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bills and is expected to mark up the Legislative Branch bill next week.
But the Senate has attached a different set of numbers to its bills, numbers that analysts think will more closely outline whatever final product is negotiated between the two chambers due to the Senate’s more stringent voting rules.
The Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill, for example, included $109 billion in off-budget spending, while the Energy and Water bill spent about $1 billion less than the House version.
Questions remain on President Trump's stance on the spending bills.
In March, he reluctantly signed the omnibus after threatening a last-minute veto over the spending levels and vowed never to sign such a bill again. It is unclear whether he would sign a minibus spending package.
The current fiscal year ends on September 30, and without new spending bills or a continuing resolution to maintain current funding levels, the government would shut down.
More sausage making to get the markup and reconciliation completed. But progress.
The business of Congress can be very confusing. Yesterday the Senate took up HR5895 which has already passed the House: H.R.5895 - Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2019
They have added a total of 207 amendments including S3024: S.3024 - Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019 which has the VA appropriation: "Provides FY2019 appropriations for Military Construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and related agencies."
Out of the 207 amendments 138 have been added just this week including 43 yesterday. So I think this is the legislation to watch. When it passes, the appropriations for all of these agencies passes. I didn't look to see how the long list of amendments may change the final appropriations but I do remember reading that the Senate $'s were more restrictive than the House. This seems to be the bill they're using to resolve the differences.