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There hasn’t been much of a celebration in Washington as the new fiscal year begins because Congress remains mired in a very tense game of political football. Here’s the play-by-play and how it impacts aging advocacy.
Congress is clearly on a streak, but not a winning one. They extended their abysmal track record for dropping the ball by not passing the Federal budget before the beginning of the fiscal year. They didn’t approve any of their 12 appropriations bills before the October 1, 2021 deadline. Instead, they continued their streak of not fulfilling their most basic Constitutional duty for the 25th consecutive year.
To avoid a government shutdown, Congress did pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) that punts the deadline for the budget to pass until December 3rd. This temporarily extended current funding levels for federal agencies and programs. Congress also passed a temporary suspension of the debt ceiling until December 1st when they will once again need to negotiate to avoid default on US debts.
In the meantime, House Democrats are still negotiating the passage of an infrastructure bill and spending bill.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF), formerly Biden’s American Jobs Plan, is a $1T Senate supported bill that includes $550B in “new” spending to cover roads and bridges, railroads, transit, Power grid, Water, broadband Cybersecurity and Climate change mitigation.
The Build Back Better (BBB) Act, formerly Biden’s American Families Plan is a $3.5T House bill that includes $190B for Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services, expanded Medicare benefits (Dental, Hearing, Vision), healthcare subsidies, Prescription Drug Reforms, paid family leave, $4B in Elder Justice funding, $1.2B increase to Older Americans Act funding, and elimination of state and local match requirements for the new funding.
Speaker Pelosi wants both bills passed together as she fears that passing the BIF alone would block any chance of passing the BBB bill. Advocacy efforts are still needed to let our elected officials know that these two pieces of legislation are important to older adults and the final negotiations need to protect the funding outlined in the BBB Act above. Please visit our advocacy webpage to send a letter to your legislators today: https://ageguide.org/advocacy/#/.
Health & Medicine Policy Research Group (HMPRG) is convening Illinois Aging Together, a statewide movement for aging equity. This campaign aims to increase the commitment to Illinois’ rapidly aging population, families and caregivers, and to promote equitable aging. To this end, HMPRG is offering a Policy Academy comprised of two training and discussion sessions. This is an excellent opportunity for learning, advocacy, and networking for anyone interested in aging equity. To participate in the Illinois Aging Together Policy Academy, visit IllinoisAgingTogether.org.
The Chicago Bears aren’t the only ones who might get a new zip code. As the 102nd Illinois General Assembly nears the end zone, legislators are expected to tackle redistricting during the fall veto session, October 19-28. It’s uncertain if they will take up any other legislation but aging advocates may have one last opportunity to push for funding for the Illinois Caregiver Bill. If the bill isn’t considered during the veto session, it will be re-introduced again next year.
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