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Federal Public Policy Priorities

12/8/17 update on Congressional activity:

The federal budget

In September, Congress missed the deadline to pass a budget for the federal government and instead passed a short-term budget plan known as a Continuing Resolution, set to expire on December 8, 2017. At this writing in December 2017, Congress passed another Continuing Resolution set to expire on December 22, 2017. Continuing Resolutions keep the federal government running while Congress continues to debate about a future budget. Most programs are able to continue “business as usual” during a Continuing Resolution, including the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities. However, right now a critical program for children known as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was due to be reauthorized on September 30, 2017 – meaning funding cannot continue even during the Continuing Resolution and states are running out of money to provide health insurance for needy children.

Tax Reform

This fall, both chambers of Congress passed historic tax reform bills. At this writing, the bills are in “conference committee”, meaning a select group of Senators and House Representatives are reconciling the differences to send one final bill to the President. While not all states are represented on the small committee selected by the Congressional Leadership, Tennessee Congressman Diane Black is on the committee. The Council is working to inform Congressman Black and other policymakers about provisions that will disproportionately impact citizens with disabilities.


Congress’ attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act failed this summer, but a provision included in the Senate version of the tax reform bill would repeal a key provision: the individual mandate. This and other policy proposals from the Executive Branch and from Congress have created high levels of uncertainty among health insurers, resulting in an unstable market for consumers and higher than average premiums. Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander worked with Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington) to propose a bipartisan, short-term stabilization measure for the healthcare marketplace. As of this writing, Alexander has expressed optimism that the bill will pass.

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Public Policy Director

Lauren Pearcy