This week, the full House of Representatives will consider a budget reconciliation proposal as called for under the FY2013 Budget Resolution passed last month. We’ve been following the reconciliation process closely on the blog and this week it comes to a close in the House with a floor debate and vote on Thursday on two bills – the Sequester Replacement Act of 2012 (H.R. 4966), and the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012. Together, these two bills would stop $98 billion of the $109 billion scheduled across-the-board cuts which take effect January 2013, including the scheduled cuts to discretionary spending, and replace the sequester with about $328 billion or more in mandatory savings over the next ten years as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Although across-the-board discretionary spending cuts would be repealed for next year, mandatory spending cuts (except those to defense) would remain in effect. For example, under this proposal the 2% cut to Medicare would remain intact in 2013.
The reconciliation bill, which the House will debate this Thursday, is a composite of all 6 sets of recommendations put forward by the committees of jurisdiction, as required in the budget resolution. The bill includes the Energy and Commerce committee recommendations that we detailed in last week’s blog, which achieve savings by cutting money from the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid. None of the proposals or provisions being advanced or considered in the House impact health centers directly. The bills were passed out of the Budget Committee yesterday along party lines after a robust debate, with many Democrats on the House Budget Committee raising objections to the cuts to the social safety net included in the bills. Although the House will probably pass the reconciliation bill this week, there is not expected to be a similar effort in the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid has stated he does not intend to take up a budget resolution, a required first step to reconciliation. . More likely is that this bill will serve as a marker of cuts the House of Representatives supports, setting the stage for budget negotiations after the November elections.