American Society of Hematology

Congress Nears Year-End Funding Deal

Published on: July 27, 2012

House and Senate leadership appeared to reach a deal late July 26 to fund the government for six months — a move that would avert a September 30 shutdown, and keep the federal government operating through March.

The deal would keep the government funded at the same levels of last year's debt limit law, a spending level Republicans have consistently dismissed as too high. But it would also avert a messy pre-election showdown over shutting down the government, something neither party wants.

The six-month funding resolution illustrates the sway of conservatives over Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and his leadership team, as the conservative Republican Study Committee advocated for a six-month funding resolution instead of a three-month bill preferred by leaders. The Senate also backs a six month funding bill.

The bipartisan funding bill will be rolled out the week of July 30 before the Congress breaks for its month long August recess to head home and run for reelection. When Congress would vote on the funding measure is still unclear, but both chambers would need to approve the deal by September 30.

ASH met with the White House on July 27 and learned the deal was hammered out in private talks between aides to Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). The deal is the first sign of progress in the ongoing fiscal battles that will dominate Washington over the next several months and define the tenure of whoever wins the White House and Congress.

However, many things still need to be resolved: a patch to the Alternative Minimum Tax, hiking the debt ceiling, marginal income rates, and the rate of reimbursement for doctors who serve Medicare patients. In addition, the threat of the automatic across-the-board spending cuts (sequestration) that were part of the debt limit deal last year still looms with no deal in sight before the post-election lame-duck session. The potential breakthrough on government spending, however, would take at least one crisis off the table.

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