The Senate overcame last minute hurdles to pass a short-term spending bill on Thursday night and avoid a government shutdown. The vote inched close to a Friday deadline due to a push by some Senators to address smaller policy issues, such as President Biden’s vaccine mandate and a balanced budget amendment, which delayed quick passage. The deal funds the government until March 11, which Congressional leaders believe will give them enough time to finalize a long-term Fiscal Year 2022 funding package with an increase in spending for both defense and non-defense priorities.
While government funding took center stage, other major developments included:
- confirmation of Robert Califf to lead the Food and Drug Administration.
- advancement of the bipartisan Postal Reform Act, although a technical error delayed final passage in the Senate this week.
- the breakdown of Russian sanctions legislation due to disagreements over how to address the Nord Stream 2 oil pipeline.
Finally, negotiations over the future reconciliation package that will serve as the vehicle for home and community-based services funding remain behind closed doors. Lutheran Services in America will continue to advocate for the inclusion of at least $150 billion for home and community-based services in the next package, as well as key provisions that would help address the acute direct care workforce shortage including:
- $1 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.