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AACN's Washington Weekly

Published October 07, 2020

Short-term Spending Bill Signed into Law: Funds Federal Government through December 11

Last week, Congress passed, and the President signed into law, the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act (H.R.8337), which funds the federal government through December 11, 2020 at the same levels as fiscal year 2020. This continuing resolution, or CR, extends funding for important federal programs, including the Title VIII Nursing Workforce and Development Programs. In addition, H.R. 8337 extended the amount of accrued and accumulated leave for officers of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, which includes nurses on the frontlines assisting communities with testing, infection control, and patient care. This provision is consistent with other branches of the uniformed and federal service. The full text of H.R. 8337 is available here and the section-by-section summary here.

House Passes Updated COVID-19 Legislation

On October 1, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an updated Heroes Act, primarily along party lines, by a vote of 214-207. This package totaled $2.2 trillion, down from the more than $3 trillion in the original Heroes Act (H.R.6800) passed back in May. Key provisions in the updated Heroes Act include:

  • $200 million for the Nurse Corps;

  • $800 million for the National Health Service Corps;
  • $249 billion for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services;
  • $4.7 billion for the National Institutes of Health to expand COVID-19 related research at NIH and academic institutions;
  • $27 billion from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund dedicated for public postsecondary education; and
  • $11.9 billion for higher education “to help alleviate burdens associated with the coronavirus for both colleges and students.”

The latest House-passed package is unlikely to be considered in the Senate. At this time, continued negotiations between Democratic Congressional Leadership and the Administration are uncertain. For the latest AACN COVID-19 Advocacy and Policy efforts, click here. For the full bill text, click here, and for a section-by-section summary, click here.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Testifies before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis

On October 2, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis held a hybrid virtual/in-person hearing with the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, Alex Azar, on the Administration’s response to COVID-19. Secretary Azar addressed concerns regarding the development process of the COVID-19 vaccine, stating: “Science would govern whether the department approves a vaccine and career officials at the Food and Drug Administration, led by the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, would decide if a vaccine was safe and effective.” Chairman James Clyburn (D-SC-06) strongly urged the Administration to execute a national coronavirus strategy that emphasizes testing and the distribution of masks and PPE. Click here to watch the hearing and learn more about the Select Subcommittees work.

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