Unable to get Senate Republicans to agree to a suspension or raising of the debt ceiling, Congressional Democrats took out the debt ceiling fix and were able to get Republican senators to adopt a continuing resolution sending it to the President’s desk before the start of the fiscal year on Friday, October 1, 2021. The CR will extend all new funding through the next two months until December 3, 2021. The two months should allow Congressional leaders to first negotiate new spending allocations and then what should be included in a final 12 bill package of appropriations.
That removes, for now, one budget challenge but raising the debt ceiling still needs to be addressed. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin has indicated that the ceiling will be hit in mid-October, but a CBO estimation suggests it could be days later. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) has said he will attempt to pass the debt ceiling fix with only 50 Senate votes but to do that will require no objection by a single Republican senator. If there is an objection, then it would take 60 senate votes.
The House acted on most appropriations bills before the August break with the Senate holding out for spending allocations between the 12 appropriations bills. The House bundled their bills into several combined bills including a “minibus” appropriations that includes HHS funding. CWLA was pleased with the House Labor-HHS-Education bill since it increases CAPTA state grants from last year’s total to $125 million, and increases within the CAPTA statute more funding for the CB-CAP at $90 million and includes a new $100 million Administration request to address racial inequity within child welfare through competitive grants. (a chart of some key child welfare and children’s program spending levels are here with a CWLA summary of the Administration request here.
The HHS numbers, however, are far from final. It is likely the Labor-HHS-Education allocation will be reduced once there is a bipartisan deal on how much should be spent on “defense” and “non-defense” spending. There is a desire, especially in the Senate to increase funding for the Defense Department. Senator John Tester (D-MT) chair of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee has indicated he would be ready to move a Defense Appropriations by mid-October.