Authorization – There was so much action this past week bullets may summarize this best:
- First, thanks to those of you who supported our DC work this week as we fought to ensure that important provisions in the original GWEP/GACA bill were included in the bill that the HELP Committee marked-up, particularly thanks to Kate and Catherine.
- Late last week we were told in a meeting with Senator Collins’ staff that a bill to reauthorize Title VII of the Public Service Act would be considered by the full HELP Committee on December 12…and that there were several issues that they were still working on with Committee staff.
- These included changes from the bill we supported (S.299 – Geriatrics Workforce Improvement Act – Collins/Casey): change in funding from $51 million to $40.7 million, a section allowing HRSA to provide an additional $100 K to GWEPS for work to train eldercare workers and family caregivers was removed, and they removed the word gerontology from the bill.
- During the meeting we and AGS and EWA made the case against these changes, followed-up with written arguments, and had a subsequent call with staff from the offices of Senators Casey, Collins, and Murray.
- GSA and NAGE engaged HRSA staff to discuss why they supported removing gerontology from the bill and found that they only supported removing it from the GACA section (not the GWEP section). Therefore, it appears that it could be added back to the GWEP section without opposition, but there is still work to do on convincing HRSA and Hill staff that it should be added back to the GACA section.
- GSA engaged with the TN GWEP (James Powers) to contact Chairman Alexander’s office about the gerontology language, which he did.
- We were given the draft bill on Tuesday and found that they had only addressed one of our concerns. They had reinserted the section allowing HRSA to provide an additional money to GWEPS for work to train eldercare workers and family caregivers, but without any funding level. The staff (Casey, Collins, Murray) told us they would keep fighting for the fixes but they thought that they had the best deal they could get with the Republican Committee staff. Also, we found in the draft that GACA awards were reduced from $90 K to $75 K.
- The EWA, AGS, NAGE, and GSA were all in agreement that these concerns needed to be addressed as much as possible before the mark-up and then in the next steps int the process.
- EWA and AGS sent up letters in support of the bill but asking for changes as the process continued. See attached. NAGE determined that it would send a letter after the mark-up to set the stage for further negotiations.
- The bill (S. 2997) was passed out of the HELP Committee December 12 by voice vote with no mention of the concerns that advocates had raised.
- We have a call to discuss next steps with Senator Murray’s staff (Ranking Minority Member of HELP) tomorrow, including how to fix the bill before it goes to the floor (maybe after the December recess).
- GSA and NAGE will work with HRSA better understand (and change) their support for removing the word gerontology from the GACA section.
- The process is far from over with Senate floor action and compromise with the House still to come. We spoke to Schakowsky’s staff and they will fight for our issues. We will continue to collaborate with the House side to ensure their support in any conference discussions. The House bill which we support is H.R. 2781 – EMPOWER Act.
- NAGE will continue to collaborate with GSA, AGS, and EWA on these important discussions.
Appropriations – We are still keeping the government running on a Continuing Resolution until December 20. The Rs and the Ds continue to negotiate…you’ll hear more next week.