This Week on the Hill: Lawmakers Close Out 2019 With Legislative Blitz

December 16, 2019

Congress returns to action this week to close out 2019 with votes on key legislative priorities — notably centered around government funding for fiscal year (FY) 2020. With legislative text set to be released later this afternoon, House lawmakers could vote on a series of “minibus” packages to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year as early as Tuesday, with the Senate following suit shortly thereafter. While Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) expressed optimism about the prospects of support from both GOP leadership and President Donald Trump, it ultimately remains to be seen whether the President will sign off on the measures if his border-related priorities are not met. Congress has until midnight on Friday, Dec. 20 to fund the government and avert a shutdown. 

As lawmakers seek to wrap up government funding issues in their final legislative week of the year, several key health care policies are also likely to be addressed. A slate of Medicare, Medicaid and public health “extenders” will expire on Dec. 20 absent Congressional action. While lawmakers have been nearing an agreement on the duration and policy changes for the extenders — which include funding for Community Health Centers (CHCs), disproportionate share hospitals (DSH), and more — it’s expected that a short-term extension could push major health care negotiations into 2020. Meanwhile, rumors have circulated that the upcoming spending deal could include permanent repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) “Cadillac Tax,” medical device tax, and health insurance tax. 

In addition to government funding, the House is poised to take up implementing legislation for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement after a deal was struck early last week, as well as articles of impeachment against President Trump. The lower chamber could also take up a measure that would repeal the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions from the 2017 tax law. Meanwhile, the Senate will look to clinch next year’s NDAA with a vote on the conference report for the $735.2 billion measure.