The House Energy and Commerce Committee is nearing the completion of its portion of the legislative language writing process for the budget reconciliation process. After a long night Feb. 11 and another full day of meeting in committee, the committee is nearly done finalizing the language it will send to the House Budget Committee.

The committee is planning to submit four separate pieces of legislative language to the committee and is debating amendments on the final subtitle, which includes $7.6 billion for an Emergency Connectivity Fund through the E-Rate program.

“This morning roughly 12 million children woke up and could not connect to the internet for school,” committee chairman Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said introducing the section. “Some of these kids come from families who either share or completely lack a computer at home. Others may not have the means to afford an internet plan that supports hours of streaming video calls for their classes.

“The funding made available by this subtitle will deliver the means and resources our communities need to keep our students online through the E-Rate program.”

The public health portion of the bill made it out of committee late on Feb. 11, passing by voice vote without amendments. The portion of the bill was then voted out of the committee by a vote of 31-25 and was submitted to the House Budget Committee. Included in the first subtitle of the bill was $500 million for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to maintaining data tracking for COVID-19 and $140 million for the Indian Health Service for IT, telehealth, and electronic health records infrastructure.

The second portion of the bill centered around Medicaid went through the amendment process before it was advanced without changes to the legislative language by voice vote on Feb. 12, and the committee advanced the language to the Budget Committee by a recorded 30-25 vote. The third subtitle of the committee’s work – focused on legislative language centered around the CHIP program – advanced with no debate on additional amendments. The committee advanced it to the Budget Committee by a 30-24 vote.

After beginning the markup process on Feb. 11, the committee is expected to finish debate on the final portion of the legislative language later in the evening on Feb. 12. The final portion is expected to be advanced out of committee as well, allowing them to report finalized language to the House Budget committee ahead of the imposed Feb. 16 deadline.

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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