Congress Approves Continuing Resolution, Avoids Government Shutdown
Before the House and Senate adjourned for their spring recess, they passed H.R. 933, the fiscal year 2013 continuing resolution (CR), which funds the government through the remainder of the fiscal year. The CR left intact the budget sequestration levels that went into effect on March 1, 2013, despite efforts to amend some of the spending cuts. The resolution gave some government agencies flexibility for programming related to the sequestration cuts to ensure continuation of essential services, such as food inspection and safety, air traffic control, and border patrol.
Of particular interest to gastroenterology:
- The CR rescinds $10 million for the implementation of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which was included as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The AGA has long opposed IPAB since it would give 16 unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats unprecedented authority over Medicare spending. We support legislative efforts like Rep. Phil Roe’s and Sen. John Cornyn’s legislation (H.R. 351/S. 351) that would repeal IPAB.
- The resolution included a $71 million increase in funding for NIH and included $582.1 million for the Veterans’ Administration’s Medical and Prosthetic research program. The $71 million increase for NIH was pushed by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-MD, and the AGA appreciates her efforts at trying to restore some of the funding that was cut from the agency as part of sequestration.
The House and Senate also approved separate and very different budget resolutions before the recess:
- The House passed a budget resolution crafted by House Budget Chair Paul Ryan, R-WI, that repeals PPACA, reforms Medicare into a premium support program, block grants the Medicaid program, lowers corporate tax rates and cuts discretionary spending.
- The Senate rejected the House budget resolution and after many hours of debate, passed a budget resolution for the first time in four years. The Senate budget resolution, crafted by Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray, D-WA, builds on many of the principles in the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan by implementing a mix of spending cuts and tax increases. the proposal includes $493 billion in spending cuts from domestic programs, $240 billion from defense spending and $242 in reduced interest payments. The Murray plan also closes tax loopholes states that tax increases should only come from the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations. The Senate budget resolution included an amendment to repeal the medical device tax. AGA opposes this 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device companies, which could limit patients’ access to emerging technologies.
Both budget resolutions are non-binding blueprints on spending priorities to help guide the appropriations process. The House, Senate and President Obama will continue to discuss and negotiate the upcoming spending bills to find the government for FY 2014 and try to achieve long-term deficit reduction.
Continue to look for more updates on the budget and appropriations process on the AGA’s Washington Insider.