Congressional Budget Justification

What it means: Each year the President prepares and submits to Congress a budget, outlining his spending and policy priorities for the coming federal fiscal year. Accompanying his budget are narrative explanations from each federal agency which present to Congress, specifically the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the rationale behind the proposed increases or decreases in spending and/or any suggested changes in policy. These “budget justifications” or “Congressional Justifications” – CJs – also include information about spending for the current federal fiscal year, the prior federal fiscal year, and the upcoming “request” year. The CJs typically provide updates regarding agency programs, initiatives, projects, and activities and report on the status of requests that Congress has made of the agencies in the previous year’s appropriations measure.

Used in a sentence: (http://officeofbudget.od.nih.gov/br.html)

“The NIH Congressional Justification (“CJ”) provides the Senate and House Appropriations Committees detailed estimates and justifications for research and research support activities (infrastructure, administrative, etc.) that NIH would anticipate funding at the President’s Budget Request level.”

Excerpted Example from HHS CJ from FY 2014 Administration on Children, and Families: (https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/olab/fy_2014_cj_final_web_4_25_13.pdf)

“Head Start (+$1.65 billion) – The FY 2014 request for the Head Start program is $9.6 billion, an increase of $1.65 billion from the FY 2012 enacted level. These funds will allow Head Start programs to serve approximately 1,053,000 children by providing new opportunities for working parents to enroll their infants and toddlers in high quality early learning and development programs through the Early Head Start – Child Care Partnership proposal. The Budget supports implementation of new regulations that require low-performing grantees to compete for continued funding. Funding is requested to minimize the disruption of services to Head Start children and families during the transition period to new Head Start provider. The FY 2014 request focuses on improving program quality and ensuring that funds are directed towards the organizations most capable of providing high quality early education that can put children on a path to school success and opportunity.”

State of The Union

Yesterday evening, the President of the United States delivered his yearly State of The Union address to both chambers of the 113th Congress. He discussed the importance of strengthening the American economy, ensuring that we care for our troops, and his forthcoming approach to working with Congress on large legislative issues. The President also noted the vital need for robust, federally-funded initiatives which are very important to the nations’ health and economy. The text from that portion of the President’s speech is below:

“We know that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow. This is an edge America cannot surrender. Federally-funded research helped lead to the ideas and inventions behind Google and smartphones. And that’s why Congress should undo the damage done by last year’s cuts to basic research so we can unleash the next great American discovery. (Cheers, applause.)

There are entire industries to be built based on vaccines that stay ahead of drug-resistant bacteria or paper-thin material that’s stronger than steel. And let’s pass a patent reform bill that allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly and needless litigation. (Applause.)”

Full text of the President’s remarks to Congress are available on the Washington Post’s website:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/full-text-of-obamas-2014-state-of-the-union-address/2014/01/28/e0c93358-887f-11e3-a5bd-844629433ba3_story.html

New House GOP Appropriations Subcommittee Rosters Announced

House Appropriations Chairman Rogers announced new GOP Appropriations Subcommittee Rosters today.

http://appropriations.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=368089

The subcommittee Chairs and Members are as follows:

Agriculture Subcommittee:
Chairman Robert Aderholt (R-AL)
Tom Latham (R-IA)
Alan Nunnelee (R-MS)
Kevin Yoder (R-KS), Vice-Chairman
Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE)
Tom Rooney (R-FL)
David Valadao (R-CA)

Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee:
Chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA)
John Culberson (R-TX)
Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Vice-Chairman
Andy Harris (R-MD)
John Carter (R-TX)
Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
Mark Amodei (R-NV)

Defense Subcommittee:
Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)
Jack Kingston (R-GA)
Kay Granger (R-TX), Vice-Chairman
Ander Crenshaw (R-FL)
Ken Calvert (R-CA)
Tom Cole (R-OK)
Steve Womack (R-AR)
Robert Aderholt (R-AL)
John Carter (R-TX)

Energy and Water Subcommittee:
Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID)
Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)
Alan Nunnelee (R-MS), Vice-Chairman
Ken Calvert (R-CA)
Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN)
Tom Graves (R-GA)
Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE)

Financial Services Subcommittee:
Chairman Ander Crenshaw (R-FL)
Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Vice-Chairman
Tom Graves (R-GA)
Kevin Yoder (R-KS)
Steve Womack (R-AR)
Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA)
Mark Amodei (R-NV)

Homeland Security Subcommittee:
Chairman John Carter (R-TX)
John Culberson (R-TX), Vice-Chairman
Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)
Tom Latham (R-IA)
Charles Dent (R-PA)
Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN)
Jack Kingston (R-GA)

Interior Subcommittee:
Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA)
Mike Simpson (R-ID), Vice-Chairman
Tom Cole (R-OK)
Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA)
David Joyce (R-OH)
David Valadao (R-CA)
Chris Stewart (R-UT)

Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee:
Chairman Jack Kingston (R-GA)
Steve Womack (R-AR), Vice-Chairman
Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN)
David Joyce (R-OH)
Andy Harris (R-MD)
Martha Roby (R-AL)
Chris Stewart (R-UT)

Legislative Branch Subcommittee:
Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK)
Andy Harris (R-MD), Vice-Chairman
Martha Roby (R-AL)
Mark Amodei (R-NV)
Chris Stewart (R-UT)

Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee:
Chairman John Culberson (R-TX)
Alan Nunnelee (R-MS)
Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Vice-Chairman
Tom Rooney (R-FL)
Tom Graves (R-GA)
David Valadao (R-CA)
Martha Roby (R-AL)

State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee:
Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX)
Frank Wolf (R-VA)
Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
Charles Dent (R-PA), Vice-Chairman
Ander Crenshaw (R-FL)
Kevin Yoder (R-KS)
Tom Rooney (R-FL)

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee:
Chairman Tom Latham (R-IA)
Frank Wolf (R-VA), Vice-Chairman
Charles Dent (R-PA)
Kay Granger (R-TX)
Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA)
David Joyce (R-OH)
Mike Simpson (R-ID)

FY 2014 Comes to a Close – All Eyes Turn to FY 2015

On January 17th, President Obama signed an omnibus bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 that includes all 12 appropriations bills. The legislation is more than 1,500 pages long and is a tribute to a bipartisan commitment between Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Mikulski and House Appropriations Chairman Rogers to fund the government through legislation rather than Continuing Resolutions. For details about the bills you can visit the links below:

Bill Text and Explanatory Statements

Summaries by Subcommittee

Information Graphs

Summary Released by Senate Chairwoman Mikulski

Now that FY 2014 comes to a close, we turn to preparing for the FY 2015 season. The President’s budget is supposed to be sent to Congress in early February after the State of the Union (January 28th). The new normal tends to see that date slip by a few weeks/months.

While FY 2015 pass backs from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) were delayed while FY 2014 was being resolved, the process is now underway. According to CQ, the President’s budget is now expected to arrive on March 4th. This will then kick off appropriations season. It is expected (knock on wood) to be a bit more predictable this year as FY 2015 allocations were included in the budget deal passed in December.

House Passes Continuing Resolution

On Friday, September 20, 2013, the House passed short-term legislation, H.J. Res 59 to keep the government operating until December 15, 2013.  The bill passed by a vote of 230-189, with only one Democrat voting for the measure and no Republicans opposing it.  This bill includes the controversial provision pushed by Republican leadership to defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The Senate will consider the legislation early next week where it is expected to be amended by the Democratic majority to restore funding for the ACA.  Some Republican Senators have also been vocal in their opposition to the controversial language concerning ACA defunding.  Once amended and passed by the Senate, the bill will be sent back to the House for consideration.  If consensus is not reached between the House and Senate, the government will shut down when the fiscal year 2014 begins on October 1, 2013.

***Thanks to Julie Allen for drafting this post.***

Understanding Lobbying Disclosure, Part I

If you are someone who follows politics, you no doubt have seen stories chronicling the many dollars spent on lobbying in a given quarter or year.  What you may not know is where these totals come from and how they are calculated.

This is the first in a series of posts explaining the federal lobbying reporting requirements under the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (unaffectionately known by its acronym, HLOGA).  Hopefully, these will help you better understand what is reported, what it really means, and how the information might (or might not be) useful in determining how the lobbying process works.

Please note that these features are intended as a primer for understanding lobbying disclosure and not as legal advice.  If you have specific questions about your personal or your organization’s lobbying disclosure requirements, please contact the House Office of the Clerk at (202) 225-7000 or the Senate Office of Public Records at (202) 224-0322.  Full Congressional guidance is available online at http://lobbyingdisclosure.house.gov/amended_lda_guide.html. This post is limited to discussing federal lobbying; state and local lobbying laws vary by jurisdiction.

So what is lobbying anyway?

Continue reading

Drinker Biddle Client Alert on CMS Release of Hospital Charges Data

Drinker Biddle’s Lobbying and Advocacy Team’s Anna Howard recently co-authored a client alert on “How Important is CMS’s Recent Release of Hospital Inpatient and Outpatient Charges Data?” Anna joined associate Christopher B. Anderson and partner Robert W. McCann in examining the usefulness and benefit of the release of such cost data. The alert is available here.

What Happens to Open Congressional Seats?

Recently the Capitol Health Record blog has provided you with background information on temporary appointments, nominations, and confirmations. But what happens if a Member of Congress receives a federal appointment? How are Congressional seats filled in the cases of nominations to other office, resignations, or deaths?

The short answer is that it depends on the state and when the nomination, resignation, or death occurs. The Constitution leaves the scheduling of special elections and nomination process up to the states.

The Constitution requires that all House vacancies be filled by special election. If the House seat is vacated late in the Congressional term, a state may leave the seat open until the next general election. Depending on the state, there may be a special election to fill the remainder of the term (from Election Day until the conclusion of the Congress) and a regular election to fill the seat for the next Congress.

  • For example, Thad McCotter (MI-11) resigned from his House seat on July 6, 2012. The seat remained vacant until Election Day when David Curson was elected to fill the seat for the remainder of the 112th Congress (November 13, 2012-January 3, 2013). In that same election, Kerry Bentivolio was elected to represent Michigan’s 11th district in the 113th Congress.
  • Also in the November 2012 election, Thomas Massie (KY-4) was elected to serve in the House following Representative Geoff Davis’ resignation. Representative Massie won both the special election and the general election, taking office in November for the remainder of the 112th Congress and being sworn in again for the 113th Congress.

Senate positions are also filled through special elections, although most Senate vacancies are filled by temporary appointments in the interim. These temporary appointments are made by the state’s governor. How long between the appointment and the special election varies by state. Additionally, in the Senate, winners of special elections typically serve the remainder of the six-year term of the preceding Senator, although some may only serve until the next national election.

There have already been a number of changes in the 113th Senate, which demonstrate the variation among states.

  • Senators Brian Schatz (HI) and Tim Scott (SC) were nominated to fill the seats vacated by Senator Daniel Inouye’s death and Senator Jim DeMint’s resignation, respectively. Both Senators Schatz and Scott will serve until November 2014, when a special election will be held to elect someone to serve out the remainder of the term ending in January 2017.
  • Senator John Kerry (MA) was nominated and confirmed to serve as Secretary of State beginning on February 1, 2013. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick nominated William “Mo” Cowan to serve until June 25, 2013, when a special election will be held. The winner of the special election will serve until January 2015.
  • Earlier today, it was announced that Senator Frank Lautenberg (NJ) passed away. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will now make a temporary appoint to fill the vacancy. There is currently some debate as to whether the nominee will compete in a special election this upcoming November or fill the remainder of Senator Lautenberg’s term, until the November 2014 election.

For additional information and more details about specific state procedures, please see the Congressional Research Service report on “House and Senate Vacancies: How Are They Filled?

2013 Medicare Trustees’ Report

On Friday, the Medicare Trustees released their annual report, which projects the solvency of the Medicare program.  According to the Trustees, the Medicare Part A program will remain solvent until 2026 — two years later than the trustees projected last year.  (Additional information on the 2012 Medicare Trustees’ Report is available here.)

The report presents a non-partisan snapshot of the state of the Medicare program, but also contains a wealth of interesting information about the overall Medicare program, such as:

  • In 2012, Medicare covered 50.7 million people – 42.1 million of whom were age 65 or older and 8.5 million of whom have disabilities.
  • In 2012 Medicare spent $574.2 billion and received $536.9 billion.  Since 2008, Medicare has been spending more than it is taking in, but is able to meet its financial obligations because it is using funds available in the trust fund (estimated to be $287.6 billion).
  • The Medicare Trustees project that Medicare will become insolvent in 2026, at which time Medicare will be spending more than it is receiving in revenues.  Interestingly, the Trustees project the Medicare program will continue to run a deficit until 2014, and between 2015 and 2014 the program will run a surplus, after which it will return to a deficit.
  • Most Medicare beneficiaries (about 73 percent) are enrolled in “traditional Medicare” – in other words, the sign up for Medicare Part A and B.  More than one quarter (27 percent) of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage (MA) – a private plans that deliver Medicare benefits.  In 2012, the Trustees estimated that 25 percent of beneficiaries were enrolled in MA.  This is interesting in part because there was concern that the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) changes to the Medicare Advantage (MA) payment rates would result decreased enrollment in MA plans.  Today’s Trustees’ report suggests that concern is not being realized (at least in the short term).
  • Most Medicare beneficiaries are also enrolled in Medicare Part B, which primarily pays for services provided by physicians and other health care professionals.  Currently most beneficiaries pay $104.90 per month for their Part B premium.  Each year the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) calculates the amount of the Part B premium.  However, the Trustees project that the Part B premium will not increase next year.

It is also important to note that in making their projections, the Medicare Trustees have to assume current law.  Thus, if Congress were to make further changes – like addressing the impending SGR cuts (more information available here – then that would have an impact on the Trustees’ projections.

More information on the Medicare Trustees, including past reports, is available here.

CMS Announces Innovation Grants

Today, CMS announced they are making up to $1 billion available for Health Care Innovation Awards.  Additional information can be found here.  A CMS press release is available here.  CMS has also posted a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs), which are available here.

CMS notes that it is specifically seeking proposals in the following categories:

  • Models that are designed to rapidly reduce Medicare, Medicaid, and/or CHIP costs in outpatient and/or post-acute settings. In its FAQs, CMS indicated that priority areas include diagnostic services, outpatient radiology, high-cost physician-administered drugs, home based services, therapeutic services and post-acute services.
  • Models that improve care for populations with specialized needs. CMS notes that priority areas include treatment for those with Alzheimer’s disease, HIV/AIDS, serious behavioral health need, pediatric and adolescent populations, and those requiring long-term services and supports.
  • Models that test approaches for specific types of providers to transform their financial and clinical models.  CMS’ priority areas include models for specific physician specialties, including pediatricians who treat children with complex medical needs.
  • Models that improve the health of populations through activities focused on engaging beneficiaries, prevention, wellness, and comprehensive care that extend beyond the clinical service delivery setting.  Examples of some CMS-identified priority areas include models that integrate clinical care with community-based interventions, integration between behavioral health care and primary care, and models that develop population-based interventions.

Letters of intent are due between June 1 and June 28.  Applications are due between June 14th and August 15th.  Applications must include a “design of a payment model that is consistent with the new service delivery model” being proposed.