This week, the House is scheduled to hold leadership elections and act on a number of bills including the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020. Senators Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) were reelected as Senate party leaders last week. The Senate continues its work on fiscal year 2021 spending bills and judicial nominations. Orientation for newly elected senators and representatives is underway.
Senate Releases Spending Bills
The Senate released a slew of its FY 2021 spending bills last week, hoping to avert a government shutdown before the current continuing resolution expires on Dec. 11. While the House passed most of its FY 2021 appropriations bills last summer, the Senate had not even begun the process. Appropriations bills are likely to pass in several grouped “minibus” packages designed to speed up the process. Lawmakers may also use these spending packages as vehicles to approve last-minute priorities before the lame duck session concludes. NCSL will continue to monitor the appropriations process for state impacts. Read more.
COVID-19 Stimulus Package Remains in Limbo
While both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have supported some version of stimulus relief before the end of the 116th Congress, both parties continue to be far apart in their relief proposals. Adding further uncertainty to the status is the stepping back of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in his role as the lead Republican negotiator. Mnuchin and Pelosi had been able to make headway in resolving some of the differences in provisions prior to the election, but with McConnell now assuming the responsibility, fruitful stimulus negotiations appear even more uncertain. Pelosi has remained steadfast in her support of a robust package that contains substantial state and local aid, while McConnell has been pushing for a “skinny” version, which contains no such aid. We will continue to advocate for, and monitor stimulus relief for states.
Supreme Court Hears ACA Case
The court heard oral arguments this week in California v. Texas, a case “where it is possible the court could rule that a portion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional and strike down the entire law if it rules the individual mandate cannot be severed from the rest of the ACA.” For more on the oral arguments, read NCSL’s blog here.
CMS Releases 2020 Medicaid and CHIP Final Rule
The final rule provides states greater flexibility for establishing payment for Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) services and setting standards reflecting their geographic realities. Since the rule was put forward for public comment in 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has worked with stakeholders, including the National Association of Medicaid Directors and individual state Medicaid directors, to review priority areas for Medicaid managed care regulations. Read more.
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NCSL's Advocacy in Washington
NCSL’s Washington staff advocates on behalf of state legislatures before Congress, the White House and federal agencies in accord with the policy directives and resolutions that are recommended by the NCSL Standing Committees and adopted by the full conference at the annual NCSL Legislative Summit Business Meeting. As a result of the advocacy that is guided by these policies’ positions, NCSL is recognized as a formidable lobbying force in state-federal relations.
NCSL Staff in Washington, D.C.
- Molly Ramsdell | 202-624-3584 | Director
- Erlinda Doherty | 202-624-8698 | Budgets and Revenue
- Susan Frederick | 202-624-3566 | Law, Criminal Justice, and Public Safety
- Abbie Gruwell 202-624-3569 | Commerce and Financial Services
- Ben Husch | 202-624-7779 | Natural Resources and Infrastructure
- Jon Jukuri | 202-624-8663 | Labor, Economic Development and International Trade
- Haley Nicholson | 202-624-8662 | Health
- Margaret Wile | 202-624-8171 | Human Services
- Austin Reid | 202-624-8678 | Education