Budget Blog

September 6, 2022 - Washington Report

By Leah Wavrunek posted 09-06-2022 03:11 PM


This Week on the Hill  

The House convenes today for a pro forma session and the Senate convenes today to consider a judicial nomination.

COVID-19 Relief Implementation

The following guidance and information was recently released to implement provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (Division M of H.R. 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021), and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA).

  • USDA Partners with States and Territories to Issue $12.5 Billion in USDA's Child Food Benefits for Summer: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has partnered with 42 states and territories across the country to provide summer food buying benefits to families with children. These states and territories will provide an estimated $12.5 billion in temporary nutrition benefits to approximately 32 million children.
  • CDC Approves Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Updated Vaccine Boosters: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Director endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendations for use of updated COVID-19 boosters from Pfizer-BioNTech for people ages 12 years and older and from Moderna for people ages 18 years and older. This follows the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amendment of the emergency use authorizations of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to authorize updated boosters of the vaccines for use as a single booster dose at least two months following primary or booster vaccination.

White House Announces Actions to Address Teacher Shortages

On August 31, the Biden-Harris Administration announced new public and private sector actions to strengthen the teaching profession and help schools fill vacancies. The Department of Education (ED) and the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a joint letter to state and local education and workforce leaders urging them to take a series of steps to address teacher and school staff shortages. These steps include establishing registered apprenticeship programs for teaching, increasing collaboration across workforce and education systems, and paying educators competitive wages. Additionally, leading talent recruitment and job platforms announced new efforts to make it easier for states and school districts to source, recruit, and hire teachers, and to help more Americans find jobs in education. For example, ZipRecruiter launched a new online job portal dedicated to K-12 school jobs. In conjunction with this announcement, leaders from the National Governors Association and other national organizations representing teachers, state school chiefs, and teacher colleges met with First Lady Jill Biden, ED, DOL and others in a meeting hosted by the White House Domestic Policy Council about these actions and additional ways to strengthen the teaching profession.

CMS Proposes New Rule to Overhaul Enrollment and Eligibility Processes

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a new rule to overhaul the enrollment and eligibility processes for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Basic Health Programs (BHPs), and eliminate coverage caps for children in CHIP. This rule, if finalized, would standardize eligibility and enrollment policies, such as limiting renewals to once every 12 months, allowing applicants 30 days to respond to information requests, requiring prepopulated renewal forms, and establishing clear, consistent renewal processes across states. There is a 60-day comment period, and comments are due no later than November 7, 2022.

CMS Encourages States to Tie Nursing Home Medicaid Payments to Quality Outcomes

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an informational bulletin detailing actions that states can take using existing Medicaid authorities to drive better health outcomes for nursing home residents and improve staff pay, training, and retention efforts. The informational bulletin also provides examples of current state Medicaid initiatives to support this work. CMS is urging states to tie Medicaid payments to quality measures that will improve the safety and quality of care.

CMS Announces Funds for Navigators Ahead of Open Enrollment Period

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced $98.9 million in grant funding, to 59 returning navigator organizations for the 2023 open enrollment period to help consumers navigate enrollment through the Marketplace, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

White House Requests $22.4 Billion in COVID-19 Funding and $3.9 Billion in Monkeypox Funding

On September 2, the White House announced it is requesting $22.4 billion in funding for the ongoing COVID-19 response effort and $3.9 billion for the monkeypox response effort in the form of emergency funding from Congress. The request for COVID-19 funding is to meet immediate short-term domestic needs including testing, research and development of next-generation vaccines and therapeutics. The request for monkeypox funding is to help ensure access to vaccinations, testing, treatment, and operational support.

USDA Announces $21.9 Million in Grants Awarded to Further Strengthen Meat and Poultry Supply Chains

On August 31, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced an additional $21.9 million of funding is being awarded to 111 grant projects through the Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant Program (MPIRG). This brings the total funding to $54.6 million. This year’s awards will fund projects in 37 states and will help strengthen and develop new market opportunities for meat and poultry processors throughout the United States.

USDA Extends Flexibility Helping Manufacturers and States Get Formula to WIC Families

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is extending a key funding flexibility in the WIC program that has allowed state agencies and their infant formula manufacturers to work together to provide more options for WIC families in need of formula. Under this flexibility, which is now extended to the end of October, USDA is covering the added cost of non-contract formula to make it financially feasible for states to allow WIC participants to purchase alternate sizes, forms, or brands of infant formulas.

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $513.2 Million in Emergency Relief for Roads and Bridges Damaged by Natural Disaster and Catastrophic Events

On August 31, the United States Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced it will provide $513.2 million in Emergency Relief Program funds to help 30 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico make repairs to roads and bridges damaged by storms, floods, wildfires, and other events in recent years.

Administration, USDOT Make $1.4 Billion in Rail Grants Available Through Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

On September 1, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity announcing the availability of over $1.4 billion in Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) Grant funding. The CRISI Program advances projects that modernize America’s freight and passenger rail infrastructure. This year, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law more than triples funding for the CRISI program.

President Biden Announces 21 Winners of $1 Billion American Rescue Plan Regional Challenge

On September 2, President Biden announced the 21 winners of the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge. Funded by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan and administered by the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Regional Challenge provides each award winner funding to rebuild regional economies, promote inclusive and equitable recovery, and create thousands of good-paying jobs in industries of the future such as clean energy, next-generation manufacturing, and biotechnology. Winners span 24 states and will receive between $25 million and $65 million to execute transformational projects and revitalize local industries.

Recently Released Reports

Selected Health Provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act
Congressional Research Service

Economic News

Unemployment Claims Reported for Week Ending August 27

The U.S. Department of Labor released unemployment insurance weekly claims data last Thursday that showed for the week ending August 27, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 232,000. This is a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week’s revised level, which was revised down by 6,000 from 243,000 to 237,000. The 4-week moving average was 241,500, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 245,500. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.0 percent for the week ending August 20, unchanged from the previous week’s unrevised rate. The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 176,793 in the week ending August 27, a decrease of 2,492 (or -1.4 percent) from the previous week