Senate Dems Have Two More Opportunities to Use Budget Reconciliation
The Senate Parliamentarian ruled on April 5 that Democrats may use budget reconciliation two more times this year to override a Republican filibuster and pass a major legislative package with 50 votes. This sets the stage for Senate Democrats to use reconciliation to advance the Biden Administration’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure package if certain conditions on revenue and spending are met. Senate Democrats already used budget reconciliation in March to advance the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (P.L. 117-2).
Administration Bumps Vaccine Eligibility Date to April 19
On April 6, the Biden Administration announced that every adult in the nation will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination by April 19, nearly two weeks ahead of the original deadline of May 1. In a press briefing preceding the announcement, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the new date can be attributed to an expedited supply of vaccine doses and improvements in distribution. However, the Administration continues to urge Americans to remain vigilant and adhere to public health guidelines as parts of the nation see an increase in cases.
Florida Congressman Passes Away, Narrowing Democratic Majority
Representative Alcee Hastings (D-IL) died on April 6 at age 84 following a two-year bout with pancreatic cancer. The Florida congressman’s death narrows Democrats’ majority in the House down to seven, leaving Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) with tighter margins to advance Democratic legislative priorities. Voters in Hasting’s district, which stretches from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach, will have an opportunity to choose a new Representative in special election that has yet to be announced by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis
Poll Finds Largest Gap between in Party Affiliation since 2012
A Gallup poll conducted in the first quarter of 2021 found an average of 49% of US adults identified with or lean towards the Democratic Party, while 40% identify or lean Republican. The nine-percentage-point Democratic advantage is the largest Gallup has measured since the fourth quarter of 2012. The poll also found 44% of Americans identify as political independents, compared to 38% in the fourth quarter of 2020. Most of the gains in independent affiliation came at the expense of Republicans who saw a 4% decline in party identification since the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to Democrats’ 1% drop over the same period. This data means Republicans’ hopes of retaking Congress in the 2022 midterms may hinge on appealing to independent voters.
CMS Begins Proposing FY22 Payment Rates
This week, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services began proposing Fiscal Year 2022 payment rates for the following prospective payment systems:
- Skilled Nursing Facilities (see fact sheet)
- Hospice (see fact sheet)
- Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (see fact sheet)
- Inpatient Psychiatric Facilities (see fact sheet)
Comments for all four proposed rules must be received no later than 5 PM EDT on June 7, 2021.
ICYMI: Trump Weighs In on 2022 Senate Races
Former President Donald Trump has already begun endorsing Republican candidates ahead of the 2022 midterms. Republicans face an uphill battle to retake the Senate in 2022 – while Democrats only have to defend 14 seats, Republicans must defend 20. On April 8, Trump issued a statement urging the currently undecided Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) to seek reelection. Democrats flipped Wisconsin from red to blue in the 2020 presidential election, and Johnson’s Senate seat is sure to be hotly contested in 2022. A day earlier, Trump endorsed Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) to succeed Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), who has opted not to seek reelection.