Senate GOP Appropriators Expect Spending Bills on Floor Soon
Republican appropriators in the Senate expect to start work soon on three of the 12 annual spending bills, as lawmakers press to finish fiscal 2012 budget work. The 2012 fiscal year began on October 1 and Congress has not yet finalized any spending bills this year. The House has passed six of its 12 regular bills, while the Senate has only passed one. Leaders in both chambers have talked about wrapping up a new spending law, mostly likely through a catchall omnibus measure. Congress also could move several smaller "minibus" packages instead. A stopgap measure, known as a continuing resolution, is keeping the government running through November 18.
Deficit Panel Working through Congressional Recesses
The Super Committee charged with finding ways to cut the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion or more is working through the current recesses, as it gets closer to its Thanksgiving deadline for submitting recommendations to Congress. The committee, tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in debt reduction over 10 years, must submit its recommendations to Congress by November 23. Congress will then have until December 23 to pass the panel's recommended package. If the committee should fail to come up with the required cuts or if Congress fails to pass a plan by December 23, across-the-board spending cuts would be automatically triggered for defense and domestic programs, including Medicare, starting January 1, 2013.
When Will Congress Adjourn for the Year?
At this point, the answer is unknown especially given that Congress has until December 23 to pass the deficit plan from the Super Committee. The House tentatively is scheduled to adjourn on December 8 while the Senate has not officially announced a target adjournment date. Given that Congress has to accept the deficit plan by December 23, we could expect them to be in session until the Christmas holiday.
Six Petitions Ask Supreme Court to Settle Constitutionality of
Health Care Law
The latest in a string of high-profile challenges to the health care law recently arrived at the US Supreme Court when Liberty University appealed a 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that threw out its lawsuit. The high court is expected to hear one or more of the suits during its current term, thrusting the decision into the thick of the race for the presidency. However, when that historic oral argument might happen or which specific cases or issues will be presented is unclear at this point.
The high court now has before it six separate petitions for writs of certiorari, stemming from four suits filed against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The procedure is that the justices then meet in conference to discuss the petitions and vote on whether and how they should be set for oral argument. A response by the Department of Justice is due by November 10.
FROM THE STATES . . .
Nursing Group Joins Forces with Hospitals to Combat Shortage
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and AARP have selected a coalition led by the Ohio League for Nursing and the Ohio Hospital Association to lead Ohio's part in increasing and extending the educational attainment of nurses. So far, 36 states have had coalitions selected to help implement recommendations made in the 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine on the future of nursing. The report called for more nurses to obtain bachelor's and doctoral degrees and promoted the concept that nurses need to step forward to lead efforts to improve the health care industry.
According to Jane Mahowald, executive director of the NLN-affiliated, Cleveland-based nursing league, up to now efforts to implement the IOM recommendations in Ohio have not been coordinated. Mahowald noted that patient safety and clinical outcomes improve when more nurses on a hospital staff have bachelor's or advanced degrees.
Ohio has one of the three worst projected nursing shortages in the country by 2020 in part because of a bottleneck in nursing schools. Clinical practice pays more than teaching, a root cause of the shortage of nurse faculty.