Senate Approves First Step in ACA Repeal
After a marathon late-night session, the Senate voted to advance a budget resolution for FY 2017 early this morning by a vote of 51-48.
Nineteen amendments were considered over the course of a seven-hour debate, but none were adopted. The budget resolution--technically a non-binding, broad blueprint for a fiscal year that began more than four months ago--is being used to drive a separate budget process called reconciliation. With reconciliation, the Senate only needs 51 votes (vs. 60) to repeal major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Once the House approves the budget resolution, as they are expected to do swiftly, the reconciliation instructions contained in the resolution are sent to the key authorizing committees of jurisdiction. The four committees (House Ways & Means and Energy & Commerce, Senate HELP and Finance) then write their respective portions of legislation to dismantle ACA, sending it back to the chamber's Budget Committee for compilation. The deadline in the reconciliation instructions is January 27, but many believe this timeline will inevitably slip, given the complications of the “replace” portion of the effort.
Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) proposed an amendment that would have pushed that deadline back to early March, but given that any deadline is non-binding, he withdrew it before a vote. Senator Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) amendment, which would create a budget point of order against any future legislation that would break Donald Trump's promise not to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, did not garner sufficient votes.
n4a is developing a policy brief on how ACA repeal may affect older adults and the agencies that work to support them, as well as actively engaging with the new Congress and incoming Administration on issues of critical aging policy importance. More soon!