by Kaitlin McColgan
Hopefully you’ve now read the post about the impact of the proposed funding cut on health centers, so now you know how serious this threat is. So, how will this bill be considered on the House floor, and what can we expect in terms of timing?
First up will be the House Rules Committee, which is expected to meet at 5pm tonight (Monday) to issue a rule that will set the parameters of debate for the spending bill- officially known as the “H.R. 1- Continuing Resolution (CR) for FY2011”. The Rules Committee is expected to issue a “modified open rule” which will require Members of Congress to pre-print any amendments they want to offer in the Congressional record, but otherwise provide few other limitations on what Members can propose as an amendment. To be considered in order, however, an amendment will have to be completely offset. Longstanding rules of the House require that when an appropriations bill (aka a spending bill) is on the floor, any increase in funding for one program be completely offset by an equal reduction to a program within the same appropriations subcommittee. This means that for a Health Centers amendment to be ruled “in order,” the amendment would have to cut $1 billion from a combination of other programs within the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Departments.
The actual debate on the floor will start Tuesday and is expected to continue until Thursday as dozens of amendments are considered. Amongst the possible amendments that health centers should be ready for include: amendments related directly to our funding (either to increase or decrease it); amendments to block or rescind funds related to health reform (which could include the Health Center fund or other health center priorities; and amendments to cut funding across-the-board. This all means that this week will be a very fluid process where multiple calls-to-action on various amendments may be needed with little notice.
A final vote on the bill is expected Thursday.
House consideration is only the first step in a multi-step process this bill will go through before it becomes law. Stay tuned to Health Centers on the Hill, your Advocacy Alerts, and other resources in the days ahead.