Shutdown averted, for now…

As I write this, the U.S. Congress has just passed a one-week continuing resolution, as part of a larger deal on the remaining 2010-11 federal budget–and thus averting a government shutdown. The larger package includes a cut of $38.5 billion in federal spending, what has been called by both the President and House Republicans as the largest spending cut in American history in terms of dollars in a single year.

We’ll know more about the substance of those cuts in the coming days.

But much of the drama today was over “policy riders” that were in the House budget, ideological proposals inserted in the budget debate that had little to do with the dollars, where the Republicans simply wanted to use the budget as leverage to advance a range of social and administrative goals. It included stopping the EPA from regulating carbon, any research around climate change, defunding public broadcasting, and stopping the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Of particular note today, it also included the defunding of Title X funding for women’s health care–which includes, but is not limited to, an attack on Planned Parenthood’s role in providing a full range of preventative screenings and services. Health Access California is proud to have Planned Parenthood on our board and we stand with them against these unwarranted attacks.

It became apparent in the last day that the holdup was less about the spending cuts (as concerning as they may be), and more about these ideological fights. So now that there’s a deal, what was the result of these non-budget items.

A document from House Speaker John Boehner details some of the policy issues, in a section focusing on the health-related items. The “guaranteed Senate votes” are unfortunate but not earth-shattering–there have been previous votes that similarly attacked Planned Parenthood and the Affordable Care Act, and which have not passed, and these are no different. But it’s worth understanding what the GOP won on these issues, as they are bound to come back again.

In fact, the government shutdown talk isn’t over… we still expect similar showdowns in June-July, over the need to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, and in September-October, over the 2011-2012 budget.

Again, here’s what Speaker Boehner indicated was included on health related-issues:

GUARANTEES SENATE VOTE ON REPEAL OF OBAMACARE. The agreement reached with Senate Democrats guarantees a Senate debate and vote on legislation that would repeal President Obama’s government takeover of health care in its entirety. The House passed such legislation in January as part of the Pledge to America.

NEW TOOLS IN THE FIGHT TO REPEAL OBAMACARE. The agreement will generate new tools for the fight to repeal Obamacare by requiring numerous studies that will force the Obama Administration to reveal the true impact of the law’s mandates, including a study of how individuals and families will see increased premiums as a result of certain Obamacare mandates; a full audit of all the waivers that the Obama Administration has given to firms and organizations – including unions – who can’t meet the new annual coverage limits; a full audit of what’s happening with the comparative effectiveness research funding that was in Obamacare and the president’s failed “stimulus” spending bill; and a report on all of the contractors who have been hired to implement the law and the costs to taxpayers of such contracts.

DENIES ADDITIONAL FUNDING TO THE IRS. The Obama administration has sought increased federal funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – money that could be used to hire additional agents to enforce the administration’s agenda on a variety of issues. This increased funding is denied in the agreement.

GUARANTEES SENATE VOTE & DEBATE ON DE-FUNDING PLANNED PARENTHOOD. The agreement with Senate Democrats guarantees a Senate debate and vote on legislation that would end federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

BANS TAXPAYER FUNDING OF ABORTION IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. The agreement includes a complete ban on local and federal funding of abortion in the District of Columbia, applying the pro-life principles of the Hyde Amendment (“D.C. Hyde”).

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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