It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Congressional Recess
Congress has, almost, delivered on everything it was set to do before hitting trains, planes and automobiles to head home for the holidays. Impressively, after passing an historic bipartisan infrastructure bill, the House and Senate have in recent days and weeks prevented a government shutdown, averted a global economic crisis by raising the debt ceiling and negotiated a defense reauthorization bill set to be signed by the President this week. Of course, there's just one more thing we were hoping for in our stocking this year…
Build Back Better Act
Unfortunately, like holiday traffic, things are trending towards a delay for Build Back Better (BBB), President Biden's roughly $2 trillion social investment agenda. This summer we learned that OAA and Title VI Native American Aging Programs would see robust supplemental investments through the Biden Administration's all-encompassing social infrastructure package (BBB). After a brief rollercoaster ride where inclusion of OAA provisions became uncertain, USAging advocacy leaders rallied to ensure House Democrats kept critical OAA provisions in the House-passed bill in early November. Last weekend, the Senate released its BBB text with language for OAA provisions mirroring the House-passed legislation, providing $1.2 billion in additional OAA funding and retroactively waiving state and local match requirements for OAA funding in the American Rescue Plan (ARPA). But passage is not a foregone conclusion. While Senate Majority Leader Schumer had hoped to see BBB passed before Congress leaves for the holidays, the Biden Administration's top legislative priority is facing an uphill battle given how complicated preparing for passage of a reconciliation bill is—and the fact that Democrats don't currently have the 50 votes they need—and as of yesterday, it appeared that BBB will definitely not move until January.
Earlier this week, USAging urged advocates to call on Senate Democrats to support older adults in their communities and pass BBB before they go on break. We will be back in 2022 with more timely Advocacy Alerts! !
Vaccines & Boosters
The CDC recently came out with a recommendation for boosters for everyone 16 and older in the fight against the continued spread of COVID-19. This week USAging joined our national partners in a joint statement urging eligible individuals to obtain vaccines and COVID-19 boosters. Reaching the disastrous milestone of more than 800,000 U.S. deaths, coupled with the spread of a potentially more transmissible variant and new data that highlights one in every 100 COVID-19 deaths thus far was an older adult, USAging and our Aging Network partners wanted to collectively convey support for these critical immunizations.
FY 2022 Budget
Poised to finally see appropriate OAA spending levels that could become the new baseline, the FY 2022 budget faces uncertainty as consideration of final spending levels continues to be put off with continuing resolutions (CR). The current CR will fund the government at FY 2021 funding levels through February 18, 2022. Over the next few months USAging will encourage advocates to press Congress to pass FY 2022 funding levels and avoid a detrimental year-long CR. Please continue to check USAging's recent Advocacy Alerts and our Appropriations Campaign page to help you connect with your elected officials on this and other critical issues.
National Debt Ceiling
The federal debt is the amount of money our government owes its creditors. Congress has in the past put limits on how much debt can be accumulated—but then regularly votes to increase that level or pause those limits for a set period of time. If Congress were to ever fail to raise the federal borrowing limit or pause the debt ceiling taking effect, the U.S. might default on its creditors, causing a domestic and global economic crisis. Congressional leaders passed a bill last week that allowed Democrats to raise the debt ceiling without additional Republican votes and this week, House and Senate Democrats voted to raise the debt ceiling by $2.5 trillion—effectively averting any threat of default until after the 2022 mid-term elections.