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 WydenOn The Money: Inside the Mueller report | Cain undeterred in push for Fed seat | Analysis finds modest boost to economy from new NAFTA | White House says deal will give auto sector B boost Government report says new NAFTA would have minimal impact on economy Hillicon Valley: Washington preps for Mueller report | Barr to hold Thursday presser | Lawmakers dive into AI ethics | FCC chair moves to block China Mobile | Dem bill targets 'digital divide' | Microsoft denies request for facial recognition tech 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 McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller aftermath: What will House Dems do now? Overnight Health Care: McConnell offering bill to raise tobacco-buying age to 21 | NC gov vetoes 'born alive' abortion bill | CMS backs off controversial abortion proposal HR 1 brings successful local, state reforms to the federal level and deserves passage 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 WaldenConservative groups defend tech from GOP crackdown Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Sanders unveils new Medicare for all bill with backing from other 2020 Dems | White House slams Sanders' rollout | Drugmakers, 'middlemen' point fingers on insulin pricing House votes to reinstate Obama-era net neutrality rules 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 SchumerDem legal analyst says media 'overplayed' hand in Mueller coverage Former FBI official praises Barr for 'professional' press conference Pelosi: Barr press briefing a 'staggering partisan effort' 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 TrumpGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Trump speaks to rebel Libyan general attacking Tripoli Dem lawmaker: Mueller report shows 'substantial body of evidence' on obstruction 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 GrahamJudiciary chairman issues subpoena for full Mueller report The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller aftermath: What will House Dems do now? Barr to allow some lawmakers to review less-redacted Mueller report as soon as next week 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.