Tuesday afternoon, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA-04) passed a two-deadline system to extend the Continuing Resolution (CR) and prevent a government shutdown before Friday’s deadline. This “clean” CR, which does not include any spending cuts, would create a Jan. 19 deadline for four spending bills and a Feb. 2 deadline for the other eight funding bills that include Labor-HHS funding for programs such as the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), community health centers, and teaching health centers. Given that both Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) endorsed the two-tiered plan Monday, ACU expects this CR to pass the Senate before the Nov. 17 deadline.

A Deeper Dive

Passage of this two-step CR would almost guarantee that Congress will not pass a large omnibus package prior to the Christmas recess.

Going forward, Congress still faces the challenge of funding the government: House Republicans are seeking steep spending cuts and conservative policy changes in all 12 annual spending bills, all of which are certain to be rejected by the Democratic-controlled Senate. Unless these ideological differences between the chambers are addressed, Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle expressed concerns that the bill would create two separate shutdown deadlines going forward.

It’s also important to note that further delays in passing the full-year fiscal 2024 appropriations bills will only bring Congress closer to a deadline at the end of April that will trigger an across-the-board funding cut for every program retroactive to Jan. 1.

Bottom Line

With passage of the short-term funding bill, the expiration deadline for NHSC funding will move to Feb. 2, 2024. We now have more time to build pressure on Congress to ensure that more than 21 million people will not lose access to services provided by clinicians of the NHSC. The field strength of the NHSC is already insufficiently funded to fully meet needs in health professional shortage areas across the country. Even as the short-term funding situation becomes less uncertain, ACU will continue urging Congress to renew and expand funding for the Corps. More specifically, ACU is working with House and Senate leadership to encourage action on the Bipartisan Primary Care and Health Workforce Act (S. 2840), which would include $950 million in annual NHSC funding for fiscal years 2024-2026. We need your help to make this happen. Stay tuned for further updates, become an ACU Advocate, and encourage all of your colleagues to do so as well.

Jordan Marshall, Your ACU Advocacy Contact

Jordan Marshall, Deputy Director of Policy & AdvocacyJordan Marshall is leading ACU’s grassroots advocacy to secure long-term funding for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC). Contact Jordan with any questions regarding policy analysis or if ACU can be of assistance with your own organizational or individual advocacy.