by Krystal E. Knight, MPH
Last week we reported that the House of Representatives had approved a year-long Continuing Resolution (H.R.3082) to fund government programs through the remainder of FY 2011, freezing total spending at the FY 2010 level of $1.09 trillion.
On Tuesday, the Senate Democratic Leadership unveiled an omnibus spending bill drafted by Democratic and some Republican appropriators, which would be offered as an amendment to H.R.3082. The $1.109 trillion omnibus spending bill provided $7.838 billion for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), $560 million more than what was provided in H.R.3082. The omnibus also directed level discretionary funding for the Health Centers program at $2.185 billion and provided funding for FTCA at $100 million.
However, on Thursday evening, the Senate Democratic Leadership removed the omnibus from the Senate floor due to a lack of bipartisan support needed to overcome a filibuster. In lieu of the expiration of the current Continuing Resolution (it would have expired on Saturday at midnight), the Senate passed an amendment to extend the current Continuing Resolution until Tuesday, December 21st (tomorrow). Congress will need to take some sort of action before that time in order to prevent government shutdown.
The Senate is expected to move ahead on another short-term Continuing Resolution that would fund government programs until March 4, 2011. A vote on the Continuing Resolution is expected on Tuesday, December 21st, which is when the current Continuing Resolution is set to expire. This short-term Continuing Resolution would fund programs at the same levels they are receiving funds under the current Continuing Resolution with a few exceptions.
While the new Continuing Resolution will allow the Health Centers program to continue to receive the FY2010 level of funding until March 4th, NACHC will need to advocate for level funding at $2.19 billion for the remainder of the FY 2011 fiscal year once the Continuing Resolution expires.
With the New Year, the new 112th Congress will be considering all of the FY 2011 appropriations bills anew since the existing Congress will be ending and all of the bills introduced during the 111th Congress will “die.” The new Congress and its many new members will thus be casting votes very early in the year that will impact our program funding. Many of these new members may not be familiar with the Health Centers program and will need to hear from grassroots advocates regarding why health centers need at least level funding in FY 2011 in order to reach 20 million new patients in the next five years. If you haven’t checked our new Grassroots toolkit for meeting with new Members, click here to check it out.
Stay tuned to Health Centers on the Hill as we gear up for more appropriations advocacy in the next few months!