This week, with the House in recess and the Senate wrapping things up, we finally saw some big action on the FMAP extension we have all been watching closely for months. On Thursday the Senate voted to pass an amendment to HR 1586, a completely offset $26.1 billion bill which includes a $16.1 billion extension of an enhanced FMAP rate for states and $10 billion to avert teacher layoffs.
The $16.1 billion FMAP extension is not the full $24 billion originally proposed, although it is the last proposal the Senate considered back in June. This version of the enhanced FMAP extension would be phased out over six months, to end June 30, 2011, providing an enhanced rate of 3.2% for the first three months and 1.2% for the second three months. After weeks of policy negotiation and political wrangling, the bill passed in the Senate 61-38 with all Democrats and Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine in support.
In response to the Senate action, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer unexpectedly announced yesterday that the House would reconvene next week, pulling members off their recess to pass the package sent over by the Senate. Although the House is rarely called back into session during a recess, Speaker Pelosi has indicated that the aid to states is too important not to pass immediately. The Majority Leader has said the House will convene at 10am on Tuesday to vote on the bill and send it to the President to sign.
Clearly, the importance of this extension and the critical aid it brings to states has reached the ears of our elected representatives and they are responding. Here at NACHC we will be watching the House eagerly next week and we’ll update the blog with information as it breaks.