Today on the Hill: CBO Score and Trump Budget Headline Hill Action

March 13, 2017

The release of two separate documents – a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score for the Republican health care plan and President Trump’s budget proposal for fiscal 2018 – will drive conversation in Congress this week far more than any of the measures on the chamber floors. The first document is sure to add a wrinkle to the debate over the Republican health care proposal after the House Committees with jurisdiction approved the bill last week before the non-partisan CBO could release its analysis. The House Budget Committee will meet midweek to help turn the proposal into a single bill that meets the requirements of budget reconciliation, with Republican leaders hoping to get the bill to the floor next week.

The FY18 budget could be released as soon as Wednesday as the White House finalizes its vision for a slimmer discretionary budget in all areas except for defense, which has been rumored to see a significant increase in funding. The President’s proposed budget kick-starts the appropriations process for the fiscal 2018 year, which will likely take considerable attention in both chambers of Congress later this spring and into the summer.  

The Senate will start its floor work today by finishing consideration of the nomination of health consulting executive Seema Verma to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. A cloture vote on her nomination passed Thursday on a 54-44 vote, with vulnerable Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) joining Republicans in approving the nomination. Watch for the upper chamber to also consider additional House-passed resolutions disapproving of Obama-era rules.

The House is scheduled to start its legislative business tomorrow and two veterans-related measures will hit the chamber floor later this week. One measure (H.R. 1259) would allow for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) to more easily fire or demote employees as part of Congress’ ongoing attention to the Department’s accountability. The other measure (H.R. 1367) to be considered provides additional resources for the VA to attract, train, and retain qualified employees by establishing a healthcare and benefits fellowship program and creating a database of mission-critical vacant positions.