Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Legislators Look Ahead to End-of-Year Negotiations

Hot off the tail of the heated budget battle that consumed Washington for the better part of October, members of Congress are strategizing for the next round of negotiations that will occur at the end of this year. The government is currently funded through January 15th, the same date a new round of sequestration cuts is slated to take effect; both are sure to feature prominently in end-of-year discussions.

The Committee on the Budget, created during the negotiations which reopened government and extended the debt ceiling, is set to meet for the first time on Wednesday, October 30th. Led by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA), the committee is tasked with finding an alternative to the automatic spending cuts in January.

The political fallout from the government shutdown and near-default on America’s debt left members in both parties denouncing the possibility of another contentious, eleventh-hour negotiation.

Any deal upon which both sides can agree will have to be reached in the mere 18 days left in the House’s legislative schedule until December 13th. Both sides considerably reined in both their rhetoric and their wish-lists in comparison to pre-shutdown posturing. Rep. Ryan stated there will not be negotiations “that will require each party to insist on the other compromising its core principles.”

“We need to focus on achievable goals,” he added.

Republicans are generally opposed to the deep cuts to defense spending which the sequester mandates. If no deal is reached before January 15, a substantial portion of the $19 billion spending reduction—from $986 billion to $967 billion—will be felt by those in national security.

Democrats are more universally opposed to any spending decrease. The Democrat-led Senate’s budget plan assumes government spending at $1.058 trillion in 2014.

Some Republicans publically stated that the sequester will be the party’s new leverage in upcoming negotiations. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) indicated that it will be the “backdrop” against which attempts to enact “substantial reforms on entitlement spending” will take place. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) similarly said “the sequester is our leverage . . . there’s not much beyond that.”

AHCA’s Advocacy Team will continue to monitor the situation on Capitol Hill through this legislative lull to ensure that long term care’s voice is heard loudly and clearly in the halls of Congress. Make sure you stay involved as well, using AHCA resources to get in touch with your members of Congress and letting them know the solutions during these budget negotiations are smart reforms, not arbitrary cuts.

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