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Budget Clears Senate Chamber

On March 27, the Senate approved its version of the FY2016 budget (S. Con. Res. 11) by a vote of 52-46. The Senate Budget Committee approved the measure on March 19 (see The Source, 3/20/15); the House approved its budget resolution (H. Con. Res. 27) on March 25 (see The Source, 3/27/15).

According to the text, the resolution would allocate $3.003 trillion in budget authority in FY2016 and, like its House counterpart, includes $96 billion in war funding. The measure contains instructions, also known as reconciliation, for the Committees on Finance and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions to write legislation to repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148).

Under the Senate budget, federal health programs would receive $414.326 billion in total budget authority in FY2016. The legislation also would create a deficit-neutral reserve fund to improve access to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). According to the committee summary, the budget resolution would create a new program based on the CHIP model to serve “low-income, working age, able-bodied adults and children who are eligible for Medicaid.”

The budget proposes $529.494 billion in overall budget authority for income security programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the school lunch program.

The measure would allocate $86.251 billion in total budget authority for education, training, employment, and social services programs; international affairs programs would receive $47.791 billion in total budget authority under the Senate plan.

During consideration of the resolution, the Senate adopted the following amendments:

  • An amendment by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) to prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who inquire about or discuss salary information in the workplace, 56-43;
  • An amendment by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to allow Americans to earn paid sick leave, 61-39;
  • An amendment by Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA) to establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to provide reason accommodations for pregnant workers, 100-0; and
  • An amendment by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) to establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to extend and expand, among other tax provisions, the Helping Working Families Afford Child Care Act, 73-27.

The Senate defeated, 45-54, an amendment by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) to require employers to prove a “business necessity” for gender-based pay discrepancies and would prohibit retaliation against employees who share salary information in the workplace.

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