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NLN Capitol Connection - September 2017

Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act
September 5, 2017

Join the Public Policy Concurrent Session 1J at the NLN Education Summit
Want to learn more about how your #NLNVoices can stand out in a sea of messages from other vocal constituents and partisan politics? Join us for concurrent session 1J at 3:30 pm on September 14th to explore the most effective ways your #NLNVoices can break through the noise. Christine Murphy, the NLN’s director of public policy and advocacy, will be discussing the inner workings of a Congressional office and constituent communications, pressing policy policies before Congress, and creative ways to reach Capitol Hill with #NLNVoices. See you there!

September Will Be Busy Month for Congress
With a short legislative calendar next month — only 12 days when both chambers are scheduled to be in session (the Senate has a few extra days on its timetable) — Congress’ September agenda is packed with several must-pass bills. Atop the to-do list is funding the government by September 30th, the end of the federal fiscal year, and raising the debt limit by September 29th, when the Treasury Department estimates the government would be in danger of defaulting on its borrowing obligations. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has called on Congress to pass a “clean” debt limit increase, meaning one that’s free of partisan policy riders. It is likely that a debt limit increase would be attached to the spending bill. The spending bill, which could be a 12-bill omnibus or a continuing resolution if talks break down, has its own pressure points.

Congressional Republicans are pushing for funding to begin construction of wall or fence along the southern border, one of the President’s key campaign promises. Democrats, however, have warned that’s a nonstarter. The President has signaled that he’s willing to shutdown the government if money for the wall is excluded from the 2018 spending bills. Congressional leadership have tried to quash any rhetoric regarding a shutdown, but the path to avoiding a shutdown is murky since border wall funding is just one issue that needs resolved in addition to the pressure of providing financial relief for Hurricane Harvey.

Increasing the debt limit and funding the government are the two major hurdles that Congress must overcome this September but they’re not the only ones. Authorizations for the Federal Aviation Administration, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the National Flood Insurance Program are all scheduled to expire September 30th absent congressional action. House and Senate committees of jurisdiction have been working on packages that would both reauthorize and overhaul these programs, but with a short calendar and contentious proposals to work through, Congress may punt on the larger measures and just pass-short term reauthorizations.

CHIP, which helps states provide health care access for poor children whose families do not directly qualify for Medicaid, has bipartisan support. Since Congress failed to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law, some lawmakers have discussed using the CHIP reauthorization as a vehicle for policy changes needed to help stabilize the health insurance market.

HELP Committee Hearing on ACA Exchanges
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) will hear from state insurance commissioners and governors September 6th and 7th as part of an effort to stabilize the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) exchanges. The bipartisan approach comes after Senate Republicans failed in July to pass a bill to repeal and replace the ACA. Additionally, Governors John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and John Kasich (R-OH) are working on their own set of bipartisan proposals to address rising premiums and market instability, including raising the minimum number of employees that would trigger a requirement for companies to provide health insurance coverage.

The next edition of the Capitol Connection will be published on October 3, 2017.

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