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Continuing Resolution Passes Out of Senate, Onto President for Signature

Capitol Connector
Your source for the latest updates from Capitol Hill. We translate policy into practice so you can learn how policy trends will affect your work and how best to prepare.

Shelley Starkey

Continuing Resolution Passes Out of Senate, Onto President for Signature

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Both chambers of Congress have agreed to a stopgap funding bill that will keep the federal government open through November 21, giving appropriators more time to finalize Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) funding levels. The continuing resolution (CR) includes a short-term extension for the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) Medicaid demonstration and level funding for the majority of ongoing federal programs. The bill now heads to President Trump’s desk for his signature.

WHERE ARE WE WITH FY20 APPROPRIATIONS?

Crafting federal funding level bills that can pass both the Republican controlled Senate and the Democratic controlled House of Representatives has been a winding road for Congressional appropriators this year. The House has passed most of its FY20 funding bills, but much of that work was done before overall spending levels had been agreed upon. Back in June, the House passed its FY20 Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education funding bills, which included significant increases in funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant.

Meanwhile, the Senate held off on its appropriations work until Congressional leaders and White House officials could agree on a deal to address deadlines for the federal debt ceiling and budgetary spending caps. The Bipartisan Budget Act was signed into law in late July, and included increases to both defense and nondefense spending and waived federal spending caps for two years.

Once the topline defense and nondefense spending levels were set, Senate appropriators turned to their 12 funding bills. Just last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee released draft text of a health funding bill that included increases for SAMHSA, NIH, Mental Health First Aid, and CCBHC expansion grants. Despite all of the progress on FY20 funding bills in both chambers, the looming deadline of September 30 necessitated the continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Extending funding through November 21 gives leadership in both the House and Senate more time to finish their respective funding bills and to reconcile the differences between their versions before sending them on to President Trump to sign them into law. The continuing resolution also aligns funding for CCBHCs with other important Medicaid programs, signaling Congress’ support for the program, and offering a streamlined path toward a longer-term extension. Stay tuned to Capitol Connector each week for updates on the FY20 appropriations process.