Major disagreements remain, but renewed dialogue between factions within the Democratic party has Congressional leaders more optimistic a deal can be reached.
While the overall cost remains the key question, many rank-and-file Members of Congress appear to be coming to terms with a narrower bill than originally anticipated. Multiple sources have indicated that the final bill is likely to include $2 trillion in spending, down from the $3.5 trillion originally envisioned. Narrowing the package by that amount will intensify the debate around what programs should be included, and how long those programs should last, with Members of Congress and advocates fighting harder for their priorities.
For his part, on Tuesday, President Biden issued a list of several priorities he would agree to cut in order to craft a narrower package. While resources to address the workforce shortage and expand home- and community-based services were not included on that list, nothing is certain until a final package is agreed upon. That is why Lutheran Services in America continues to advocate for key provisions that would help address the acute workforce shortage and expand access to home and community-based services. Specifically, we are advocating for a final package that includes:
- $250 billion to incentivize states to deliver or improve home- and community-based service programs, including through increasing wages and benefits for direct care workers;
- $1.48 billion for a grant program funding strategies to recruit and retain direct care workers; and
- the provisions of the WORK NOW Act to create a $50 billion grant program supporting nonprofits in paying wages and benefits.
Please join us in this effort through our advocacy alert.
By Sarah Dobson, Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, and Josh Dubensky, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for the Lutheran Services in America Disability Network