NAICU Washington Update

New Hurdles to Final Spending Bill

March 04, 2022

Just when Congress seemed to have final agreement on completing the FY 2022 spending bills, new emergency issues popped up making it more difficult to finalize a deal before the current continuing resolution (CR) expires at midnight next Friday, March 11. The attack on Ukraine and the push for additional COVID relief has thrown Congress into a scramble to meet the deadline.

The Russian attack on Ukraine prompted proposals to provide assistance of emergency spending between $6.5 and $10 billion, and Congress has not decided if such supplemental funding should be attached to the FY 2022 omnibus, or be considered as separate legislation. 

Providing additional emergency COVID relief has been on and off the table throughout the spending bill negotiations, as some appropriators found it would be more helpful to write regular spending bills without the overlay of what is becoming a partisan response to the national health emergency. 

But after President Biden delivered the State of the Union Address, the Office of Management and Budget submitted a formal request for almost $33 billion to address both issues, and asked Congress to act immediately.  This has caused a scramble on Capitol Hill to write legislation that can be quickly passed in the House, and have plenty of time for floor debate in the Senate, before the CR expires. 

The Administration’s $33 billion request includes $10 billion for assistance to Ukraine, and $22.5 billion for the ongoing pandemic. The Administration’s proposal for the next phase of pandemic relief, the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, has taken longer to materialize than expected, and is focused on funding public health initiatives, which does not include direct assistance to higher education.. Congress will need to take the next steps to provide funding and appropriate legislation to activate this plan. 

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