As we suspected, Congress has now officially admitted they won't finish their work on time and once again will have to pass what amounts to emergency legislation to keep the government open. Actually, to say it was emergency legislation is probably not accurate because operating this way has become fairly normal now.
The House passed the bill yesterday and the Senate is expected to take it up next week.
The legislation is called a “CR” - a continuing resolution, which means the government will be funded for a short period of time and for the most part it will be at the same funding levels as in fiscal year 2019. The CR will last until Nov. 21 at which time one of three things must have happened. Either they will have finally passed all the funding bills needed for the rest of the fiscal year; or they will have passed another CR; or we will have another government shut-down.
To be fair, the House of Representatives, for the most part, got its work done on time. It was once again the Senate that failed to do what it is supposed to do and pass the funding legislation that is needed for the new fiscal year which will begin on October 1.
The irony is that when Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) because Senate Majority Leader in 2015 he said the Senate must return to “regular order,” which means getting its work done in an orderly fashion and on time.
"We need to get committees working again. We need to recommit to a rational, functioning appropriations process," McConnell said on the floor of the Senate during the first full day of his Senate leadership. "We need to open up ... the legislative process in a way that allows more amendments from both sides."
Yet here we are today facing another failure to pass legislation on time, which has happened year after year under McConnell.
But, again to be fair, the situation was the same when the Democrats were the majority in the Senate. So perhaps the issue is not which party is in control. Maybe it's the within the institution of the Senate itself. Or maybe it's the fact that voters keep sending Senators to Washington who are afraid to compromise on issues because the voters are so divided about what they done.
At any rate, what this means is the legislation that TSCL is fighting to pass which would safeguard and improve Social Security and Medicare still has the possibility of passing this year. Most of those bills will involve new spending, which means they will need to be included in new funding legislation.
If they are not included, we will continue to fight for them next year and each year until we are successful.
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Last week we wrote about a new bill that was expected to be introduced this week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that would lower prescription drug prices on some of the most expensive drugs. The plan would allow the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate the price of up to 250 drugs per year, and the lower prices would apply to people both with private insurance and those on Medicare.
Pelosi is reported to be aiming for a House vote on the plan by the end of October or early November but Senate Majority Leader McConnell has already said the bill will go nowhere in the Senate.
Fortunately, there are other bills in Congress that TSCL supports to lower the amount of money seniors must pay for their prescription drugs which we believe have a much better chance of passing and we will keep fighting for them.
For progress updates or for more information about these and other bills that would strengthen Social Security and Medicare programs, visit the Bill Tracking section of our website or follow TSCL on Twitter.