the advocacy monitor

Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Action Alert: Federal Funding and COVID-19 Update

The House of Representatives passed a one-week stopgap spending bill introduced by House Democrats earlier this week. The spending bill would extend funding for the federal government by one week, providing another week for Congress to negotiate details of a larger spending package and avert a government shutdown.

The continuing resolution (CR), H.R. 8900, changes the government funding deadline from December 11, 2020 to December 18, 2020. It also provides that one-week extension for several programs, including the Money Follows the Person program and Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Spousal Impoverishment protections.

The Senate will likely vote on Friday. Assuming the bill passes, this gives Congress a week to iron out the details of a larger spending package to fund the government for the rest of fiscal year 2021. It is unclear whether that week will be enough time to reach an agreement, but many members of Congress seem optimistic.

The extra week also gives Congress time to iron out the details of a much-needed COVID-19 relief package, which Congressional leaders say will likely be paired with the spending package. Just yesterday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers released an outline of their $908 billion proposal (PDF). However, disagreements between Congressional leaders continue over key provisions, including the dangerous liability shield, and state and local funding.

Prior to the release of details about the bipartisan package, Senate Majority Leader McConnell suggested that Congress pass a targeted plan that did not include the liability shield of the funding for state and local governments. Shortly after, the White House put forth a separate $916 billion proposal that included both those pieces. It also cut the bipartisan unemployment insurance proposal being discussed to pay for a second, smaller round of one-time stimulus payments.

The path forward remains unclear, but the release of the bipartisan outline may signal the most likely path forward. However, while that package would provide some critical relief and extend some important programs, a lot of issues are not addressed, including the priorities of the disability community.

Because of this, we need to continuing making sure our Members of Congress are hearing from us as negotiations continue! You can see our alert from earlier this week for more information, including contact information and a sample script.