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Congress Passes Federal Budget Deal

Congress Passes Federal Budget Deal

February 12, 2018 Government Relations News

On Friday, February 9, the U.S. Congress passed a two-year budget deal to fund the federal government through March 2019, raising spending caps and suspending the statutory debt limit until March 2019. The passage of the bill ended a brief, five-and-a-half hour government shutdown that began when Congress failed to approve budget legislation before midnight on Thursday, February 8. The bill passed the Senate around 2 a.m. on Friday before passing the House on a bipartisan vote of 240 to 186 around 5:30 a.m. President Trump signed the spending bill shortly thereafter. Many House Democrats opposed the bill due to Speaker Paul Ryan’s unwillingness to hold a vote on the impending expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The bill also faced opposition on the right from fiscal hawks and the Freedom Caucus, who felt the legislation was not fiscally conservative enough. The new budget deal will increase federal spending by about $300 billion, including $165 billion for defense spending and $131 billion for domestic programs. It also includes an additional $89 billion for disaster relief aid for states and territories ravaged by hurricanes last year, as well as other disasters such as droughts and wildfires going back several years. For healthcare, the bill extends the Children’s Health Care Program (CHIP) through fiscal year 2027, approves an additional $2 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and repeals the Affordable Care Act’s Independent Payment Advisory Board, an initiative that would have lessened Congress’ power over Medicare spending had it been implemented. It also extends some expired Medicare programs and modifies several Medicare policies relating to telehealth and reimbursement. Additional funds have also been allocated for programs that support mental health and combat the opioid crisis over the next two years

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