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Legislative Update

House. The House could vote as early as Wednesday to approve a continuing resolution that will provide government funding beyond the Dec. 3 expiration of the current CR.

Senate. After the House approves this latest CR, the Senate will then give its approval by the end of the week. In the meantime, Senators will continue to work on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), with the hope of taking a final vote this week, although that timeline could slip.

Continuing Resolution. There is no doubt that lawmakers will approve a CR to avert a government shutdown. The only questions are, how long will it last and what other provisions might go along for the ride?

While House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) has raised the idea of a very short-term extension until the middle of December, there is no real likelihood that between now and then, Democrats and Republicans will agree on top-line numbers for defense and non-defense spending and then draft the details of all 12 appropriations measures to comport with those new numbers. The current speculation is that this latest CR will last until late January.

As for other provisions that could be tacked on, the most likely to be considered are programs that expire on Dec. 3, including the authorizations for the national flood insurance program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Other contenders are proposals addressing sequestration of payments to Medicare providers.

Absent Congressional action, $36 billion in cuts to Medicare providers will go into effect in mid-January 2022 as a result of deficit spending in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that was enacted in March. The cuts would be set in motion under the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) Act. However, the PAYGO sequester has never been triggered because Congress has always voted to waive it. For example, Congress included language in the December 2017 continuing resolution to waive the cuts that would have been triggered by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

A separate sequester issue is less likely to be approved. Since 2013, payments to Medicare providers have been subject to a 2% cut. However, because of the pandemic, those payment reductions have been suspended since May 2020. The latest suspension expires Dec. 31, and the cuts are not likely to be delayed again.

Reconciliation. On Friday, Nov. 19, the House passed the Build Back Better reconciliation bill, 220-213, on a near-party line vote, with only Democratic Rep. Jared Golden of Maine joining all Republicans in opposing the measure. Before the Senate takes up the legislation, Democrats must overcome two hurdles: They must (1) go through the Byrd Bath process to see if the parliamentarian believes various provisions, including immigration and certain parts of the drug pricing proposal, meet the rules for reconciliation, and (2) ensure that all 50 of their colleagues will support the bill. Optimistic Democrats believe a bill could be ready for floor consideration by mid-December.

Committee Action of Note:

  • Tuesday, November 30:
    • Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Hearing to examine hidden holiday hazards, focusing on product safety during the holiday season.
    • Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing to examine United States policy on democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    • Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Hearing to examine CARES Act oversight of Treasury and the Federal Reserve, focusing on building a resilient economy. Witnesses: Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome H. Powell.
  • Wednesday, December 1:
    • House Financial Services Committee Meeting: Oversight of the Treasury Department's and Federal Reserve's Pandemic Response. Witnesses: Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome H. Powell.
    • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Hearing: Holding Big Tech Accountable: Targeted Reforms to Tech’s Legal Immunity.
  • Thursday, December 2:
    • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Hearing: The Evolving Cybersecurity Landscape: Federal Perspectives on Securing the Nation's Infrastructure.
    • House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade Hearing: Supporting U.S. Workers, Businesses, and the Environment in the Face of Unfair Chinese Trade Practices.
    • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health Hearing: The Overdose Crisis: Interagency Proposal to Combat Illicit Fentanyl-Related Substances.
    • House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Workforce Protections Hearing: Strengthening the Safety Net for Injured Workers.

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