Senate Dems push for health center funding in spending bill

Senate Dems push for health center funding in spending bill
© Greg Nash

Senate Democrats are pushing for additional health-care measures like funding for community health centers to be included in a short-term funding bill this week ahead of a impending government shutdown.

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenGroup files lawsuit to force Georgia to adopt paper ballots Treasury releases proposed rules on major part of Trump tax law Rubio slams Google over plans to unveil censored Chinese search engine MORE (Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said at a press conference with Democratic leaders on Wednesday that he wanted the community health center funding added, as well as an extension of programs for home visits from nurses and for rural healthcare.

He argued it was wrong for Republicans to include delays of ObamaCare taxes, such as the health insurance tax, without addressing those programs. 

"We feel really strongly about community health centers, visiting nurses, rural health extenders being left out and yet a big corporation like UnitedHealth will benefit from the health insurance [tax] delay," Wyden said. "All those folks got big relief at the end of the year [in the tax-reform bill]."


Republicans, meanwhile, are pressuring Democrats by pointing to the six years of funding in the package for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a Democratic priority.  

“The newest member of this body, the junior senator from Alabama, campaigned on this very issue," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSen. Warner to introduce amendment limiting Trump’s ability to revoke security clearances The Hill's 12:30 Report Rand Paul to ask Trump to lift sanctions on Russian leaders MORE (R-Ky.) said earlier Wednesday, referring to Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.).

"As senator-elect, he insisted that his future colleagues should, quote, ‘stop playing political football with the health care of our children.’ He called it, quote, ‘absolutely unacceptable for partisan fighting to delay renewing funding for CHIP.’"

“I hope my friends the Democratic leaders are listening to their own members," McConnell added.

Democrats say the other health-care programs, like community health centers, should be added. And they argue it is Republicans' fault for letting CHIP expire in the first place, after it was supposed to be reauthorized by Sept. 30.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenHouse committee considering subpoena for Twitter CEO: report Top Republicans concerned over impact of potential Trump drug rule Apple jabs ‘other companies’ in defending customer data policies to lawmakers MORE (R-Ore.) said Wednesday he hopes to fund community health centers later on as part of a long-term government funding deal.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTo make the House of Representatives work again, make it bigger Reforms can stop members of Congress from using their public office for private gain Election Countdown: GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket | Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries | Parties fight for Puerto Rican vote in Florida | GOP lawmakers plan 'Freedom Tour' MORE (D-N.Y.) said there is an "overwhelming number" of Senate Democrats opposed the current funding package.

Democrats are also pushing for an immigration deal, but it is unclear how many will vote no on government funding in the absence of an agreement to protect those affected by President TrumpDonald John TrumpBrennan fires new shot at Trump: ‘He’s drunk on power’ Trump aides discussed using security clearance revocations to distract from negative stories: report Trump tried to dissuade Melania from 'Be Best' anti-bullying campaign: report MORE's decision to rescind the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program.

At least nine Democrats are needed to get 60 votes to advance a spending measure in the Senate, and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate gets to work in August — but many don’t show up Graham: Flynn should lose security clearance Press needs to restore its credibility on FBI and Justice Department MORE (R-S.C.) said Wednesday that he would not vote for a short-term spending plan proposed by the House.

"We're going to look at the whole package and Sen. Schumer is going to keep negotiating," Wyden said.