Budget Blog

May 24, 2022 - Washington Report

By Leah Wavrunek posted 05-24-2022 01:48 PM

  

This Week on the Hill  

The Senate is in session this week and the House is out for a committee work week. 

The Senate convened today and is focused this week on preparing a resolution that will urge the administration to quickly finish the process to recognize Finland and Sweden as NATO countries. The resolution is expected in the Foreign Relations Committee for a markup on Thursday. 

Last week, the Senate passed a $40.1 billion aid package for Ukraine. President Biden signed the measure (HR 7691) which will help arm the Ukrainian military and provide economic and humanitarian relief. Last Thursday, senators blocked the Senate from considering a $48 billion aid package for restaurants and other small businesses. 

Reminder on Capital Projects Fund Reporting Comment Period Deadline

On May 10, 2022, the draft Capital Projects Fund Compliance and Reporting Guidance for States, territories, and freely associated states was made available in the Federal Register for a 15-day public comment period.  Treasury invites interested parties to review and submit comments. All comments must be submitted by following the instructions outlined on Regulations.gov by May 25, 2022. Treasury will publish the CPF Reporting Guidance following the public comment period. 

Actions Taken to Address Formula Shortage

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf told a House appropriations panel last week that the Biden administration’s actions will begin to stem the formula crisis within a few days. Last Wednesday, President Biden invoked the 1950 Defense Production Act to increase baby formula supplies. He also directed agencies to use military commercial aircraft to pick up overseas infant formula to get it to store shelves faster. 

Last week, the House and Senate passed and the President signed HR 7791. This measure extends Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) infant formula flexibilities. The House also passed a bill to provide emergency funding for the FDA for formula inspections and monitoring. HR 7790 would provide $28 million in emergency supplemental appropriations to address the shortage of infant formula in the United States. The measure now heads to the Senate where its future remains uncertain. 

Judge Puts Hold on Plan to Lift Title 42 Border Expulsion Policy

A federal judge in Louisiana ordered the Biden administration to maintain pandemic-related restrictions that have largely closed borders to asylum-seekers for more than two years. The ruling halts the Biden administration’s plans to lift the public health directive know as Title 42. The judge ruled that the policy should be maintained while two dozen Republican-led states pursue a lawsuit that challenges the Biden administration decision.

 

Census Miscounted the Population of 14 states, a Review Shows

According to the Census Bureau, the 2020 census undercounted the population of six states and overcounted residents in eight other states. The conclusions come after a survey of 161,000 housing units was complete, a standard procedure following the census. Results show that Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas most likely have a larger population than was officially counted, while Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Utah likely have fewer residents than were counted. The count in the remaining 36 states and the District of Columbia were basically accurate.

 

EPA Announces $500 Million for Clean School Buses

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $500 million is available for school districts and other eligible school bus operators and contracts to begin replacing the nation’s fleet of school buses with clean, American-made, zero-emission buses. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law secured a $5 billion investment for low and zero-emission school buses over the next 5 years. Applications are open until August 19, 2022. More information on the program can be found here.

 

CMS Releases Resource on Key Requirements for Compliance During Unwinding from the Public Health Emergency 

On May 17, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a resource that reminds states of their obligation to continue to meet federal requirements related to eligibility and enrollment in Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Basic Health Program (BHP) during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) unwinding period. This tool includes information for states on the requirements for eligibility renewals and redeterminations, application processing, fair hearings, coordination with the Marketplace, and other processes. On May 10, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra sent a letter to governors regarding the COVID-19 PHE and reiterated that there will be 60-days’ notice before any expiration or termination of the PHE. On April 12, 2022, Secretary Becerra extended the PHE, effective April 16, 2022, which means the PHE will be in place through at least July 15, 2022. At this time, since the 60-day window for notification has passed, HHS is  signaling there will be another PHE extension when the current one ends.

 

HHS Announces $15 Million Nursing Home Behavioral Health Grant

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a funding opportunity of nearly $15 million for a three-year federal grant program to strengthen the delivery of behavioral health care to residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The program will use collected funds from penalties imposed against nursing homes and other long-term care facilities when they are not in substantial compliance with one or more Medicare and Medicaid program participation requirements for long-term care facilities. The grant is offered in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and will be used to establish a Center of Excellence to directly consult with nursing homes and long-term care facilities to improve behavioral health care.

 

HHS Announces $1.5 Billion Funding Opportunity for State Opioid Response Grant Program

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), announced a State Opioid Response (SOR) grant funding opportunity that will provide nearly $1.5 billion to states and territories to help address the nation’s opioid addiction and overdose epidemic. The grant will be awarded in fiscal year 2022 to 59 states and territories.

 

CDC Expands Eligibility for COVID-19 Booster Shots

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that children ages 5 through 11 years should receive a booster shot 5 months after their initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination series. In addition, the CDC is strengthening its recommendation that those 12 and older who are immunocompromised and those 50 and older should receive a second booster dose at least 4 months after their first.


CMS Proposes Basic Health Program Funding Methodology for Program Year 2023

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published the proposed Basic Health Program federal funding methodology for program year 2023. This provides the methodology and data sources necessary to determine federal payment amounts for program year 2023 to states that elect to establish a Basic Health Program to offer health benefits coverage to low-income individuals otherwise eligible to purchase coverage through health insurance exchanges.

 

Recently Released Reports

Funding the State Administration of Unemployment Compensation (UC) Benefits

Congressional Research Service 

State-Administered IRA Programs: Overview and Considerations for Congress

Congressional Research Service 

Recent Funding Increases for FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance

Congressional Research Service 

USDA Nutrition Assistance Programs: Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Congressional Research Service 

Courting Judicial Excellence in Juvenile Justice: A 50-State Study

The Council of State Governments Justice Center 

Taxing Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits: Federal- and State-Level Tax Treatment During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Congressional Research Service 

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program

Congressional Research Service 

The $195 Billion Challenge: Facing State Fiscal Cliffs After COVID-19 Aid Expires

The Volcker Alliance 

Governors' Initiatives to Enhance Planning, Delivery and Success of Major Infrastructure Projects

National Governors Association

 

Economic News

April Jobless Rates Down in 13 States; Payroll Jobs Up in 11 States

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last Friday that unemployment rates were lower in April in 13 states and the District of Columbia and stable in 37 states. The national unemployment rate for April 2022 was 3.6 percent, which is unchanged over the month, but is 2.4 percentage points lower than in April 2021. Nonfarm payroll employment increased in 11 states and was essentially unchanged in 39 states and the District of Columbia in April 2022.

 

Federal Reserve Board Issues Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2021 Report

Yesterday, the Federal Reserve Board issued its Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2021 report. The report examines the financial lives of U.S. adults and their families and draws from the Board’s annual Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking, or SHED. The most recent SHED was completed in October and November of 2021 before the increase of COVID-19 cases and other changes in the economy that have taken place in recent months. According to the report, self-reported financial well-being reached its highest level since the SHED began in 2013. The full report along with a fact sheet and downloadable data can be found

here.