Health Center Federal Policy, Uncategorized

Senate Votes on Budget, House on Debt Ceiling; No Real Progress Yet for FY2012

Last week, the FY2012 budget action was in the Senate – or at least, the budget action we saw was in the Senate – while the House tackled the debt limit early this week.   However, the big news from Congress is no news:  the Senate did not pass any FY2012 budget resolution, and the House did not advance a debt ceiling bill.  Here’s  the breakdown from the last week:

The Senate. While the House passed a budget several weeks ago, the upper chamber has not presented a FY2012 Budget Resolution yet. Instead, last week, Senators took a series of votes on FY2012 budget proposals including the House-passed resolution.  However, despite the simple majority (51 Senators to pass) vote threshold, the Senate failed to pass any of the budget resolution options on the table.  The House-passed FY2012 Budget Resolution was among those that failed, with 40 Republicans voting for it and 57 votes against it.  Republicans voting against the Ryan budget included Senators Snowe and Collins from Maine, Scott Brown from Massachusetts, Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Rand Paul (KY), who voted against it because he felt the proposal didn’t go far enough.  Among other budget resolutions defeated were the President’s original FY2012 Budget, which was submitted prior to the FY2011 spending agreement, (0-97), the Toomey (R-PA) Budget (defeated 42-55) and the Paul (R-KY) Budget (defeated 7-90).  Although the votes don’t reveal much, they do indicate that the Senate is far from agreement on proposals that have already been introduced.

The House.  As the Senate acted on the FY2012 budget, the House took a symbolic vote this week on a clean debt ceiling bill, which failed 318-97 (with 82 Democrats voting ‘no’ and 7 Members not voting).  This vote was the first either the Senate or House has taken on raising the impending debt limit, and it was brought up by the House majority in order for it to fail.  The vote indicates that the House is likely to insist on some kind of deficit reduction component in exchange for passage of a debt ceiling increase.

Even as they have strong disagreements on the best path forward, Congress is clearly going to keep a heavy focus on the deficit in the year to come.  Stay tuned to the blog for our coverage of impending debates on spending and budgeting, and how health centers will fit into the mix.