John Hodge, PHADA President
The Senate had planned to mark up some bills right around now, but that timetable has been delayed because of contentious debate on potential police reforms. The House still plans to start up its process after Independence Day.
At the same time, the two chambers are discussing another round of legislation to address the pandemic. The House passed its version, the $3 trillion HEROES bill, in May. See the May 27 Advocate for a thorough summary of that legislation. The Senate, meanwhile, is working on a smaller package it may release this month. A compromise could surface by the end of July.
Regardless of when they begin the FY 21 process, one of the biggest hurdles for appropriators is to agree on the overall allocation for domestic discretionary spending. Congress is set to spend about $1.4 trillion in FY 21, but lawmakers have only $5 billion more than the current year to allocate government wide. Many lawmakers believe it would be impossible to craft workable appropriations bills under such tight constraints. Thus, there is ongoing discussion about exempting some veterans’ health care spending from the caps, thereby giving appropriators more flexibility.
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