‘Close,’ But Senators Not There Yet On Deal To Keep Government Open
After working late into the night, senators are set to reconvene early Thursday morning to continue hammering through amendments to the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill that includes several major changes to U.S. health programs. Title 42 is at the center of much of the disputes.
Schumer: Senate Closing In On Omnibus Amendments Deal
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer took to the floor at 2 a.m. Thursday to say an agreement was near to speed up passage of the massive fiscal 2023 omnibus spending bill, after senators spent the day Wednesday wrangling behind the scenes. The chief dispute was over pandemic-era asylum restrictions that the Biden administration wants to lift, a move that Republicans and some Democrats say would exacerbate chaos at the border. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has an amendment to bar the administration from ending the so-called Title 42 policy; Republicans want a simple majority threshold for adoption, while Democrats want to raise the bar to 60 votes. "It is my expectation we will be able to lock in an agreement on the omnibus tomorrow morning," Schumer said. "We are very close, but we're not there yet." (Quigley and Weiss, 12/22)
Senate Kicks Government Funding Drama Closer To Shutdown Deadline
Senators left the Capitol on Wednesday night without a critical deal allowing for votes on a $1.7 trillion government funding package, kicking the bill into Thursday and closer to a shutdown deadline. Lawmakers are at a standstill over a proposed GOP amendment tied to a Trump-era border policy, which could force Democrats to take a politically tricky vote. It’s a U-turn from earlier in the day when leadership hoped the strong pull of leaving for the holidays would speed up passage of the mammoth bill on Wednesday, checking the final item off the Senate’s year-end to-do list before the chamber departs Washington until late January. (Emma and Carney, 12/21)
Mike Lee, Title 42 Drama Holds Up Omnibus Passage
An effort led by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) to maintain Title 42 is threatening efforts to pass a sweeping government funding bill before a shutdown deadline later this week. Congressional negotiators on both sides say the biggest holdup is ongoing negotiations to decide what the voting threshold would be to pass the amendment. (Folley, Bernal and Weaver, 12/21)
Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy Fight Over Spending Omnibus
The spending legislation has laid bare a Republican schism. The House GOP and a group of Senate Republicans wanted the full-year spending plan delayed until after they take control of the House on Jan. 3. Kevin McCarthy, who is trying to shore up support for his bid to become House speaker, backed a threat from a small group of conservatives vowing to block any initiatives next year from Republican senators who vote for the spending legislation, including Mitch McConnell. “When I’m Speaker, their bills will be dead on arrival in the House if this nearly $2T monstrosity is allowed to move forward over our objections and the will of the American people,” McCarthy tweeted.
Senate Struggles On Final Passage Of $1.7 Trillion Spending Bill
Support from at least 10 GOP senators is needed for it to clear the Senate before the plan is taken up by the House, and 21 Republicans voted to begin debate on the measure Tuesday. In an 11th-hour attempt to deter Senate Republicans from voting in favor of the legislation, known as an omnibus bill, a group of 31 House Republicans sent a letter to their colleagues threatening to oppose the legislative priorities of any GOP senator who supported the package."Voting in favor of this bill is a dereliction of our duty on all counts," they warned. (12/21)
More on the spending package —
Can Medicare's Hospital At Home Program Prove Its Worth?
A Medicare program that allowed approved health systems to bill for hospital care delivered in people’s homes during the pandemic is on the cusp of a two-year extension, giving a boost to home care models many see as the future. (Aguilar, 12/21)
In other news from Capitol Hill —
Pandemic Response Gets A Permanent Home At The White House
The era of the rotating cast of public health czars at the White House may finally be over. Presidents for decades have brought fresh faces to the White House to coordinate federal responses to threats such as Covid-19, mpox, Ebola, AIDS, and the bird flu. Now, Congress aims to give pandemic response a permanent home at the White House. (Cohrs, 12/22)