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Congress Introduces $1.7 Trillion Omnibus Spending Package

Happy Holidays from your Government Affairs team in Washington. We have breaking news this morning on several legislative items that could potentially impact your firm or your clients. Legislative language for the massive, 4,000 page “omnibus” government funding bill was released hours ago and includes several key provisions of concern. Senate and House negotiators, along with their staff, worked through the weekend to reach the agreement, thereby avoiding a government shutdown later this week.

With congressional leaders supporting the language, we expect the Senate to pass the measure first, and send it to the House for its passage just before the weekend for the President’s signature. You can find the full omnibus text here.

Here’s an overview of provisions of note to Council member firms:

What’s In:

  1. Secure 2.0 – Retirement provisions that would require employers with 401(k) or 403(b) plans to automatically enroll all new, eligible employees is included in the bill. The Council has long-supported Secure 2.0, which enrolls new employees at a 3 percent contribution rate and increases that rate by 1 percent annually until it reaches 10 percent. Additional information on Secure 2.0 can be found here.
  2. Telehealth Coverage – Also included is a telehealth provision giving employers the flexibility to offer telehealth services, pre-deductible, to those with a high-deductible health plan paired with a health savings account. This is a significant win for employers and Council member firms. The Council signed onto a letter last month with 350 other employer and insurer stakeholders, which pushed for the inclusion of the telehealth extension for private insurance plans. Additi onal information on key health provisions included in the omnibus can be found here.
  3. Flood Insurance – The bill extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) authorization and borrowing authority through September 30, 2023.

What’s Out:

  1. Safe Banking – Regrettably, the legislation does not include the SAFE Banking measure that would allow the financial services industry to service the legalized cannabis sector. In the final days of negotiations, Leader McConnell indicated resistance to supporting its inclusion, and Senator Pat Toomey, the Banking Committee Ranking Member, resisted it’s inclusion citing money laundering concerns recently raised by the Department of Justice. It’s a significant blow to the measure, which was long mired by infighting among progressives and faced an uphill battle with conservatives despite its broad bipartisan support. Senate Banking Chairman Sherrod Brown says that the measure will be a top priority for the Committee next year, citing its broad bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. The legislation passed the House six times with well over 300 votes. We are deeply disappointed but will continue to advocate for its passage next year.
  2. End Stage Renal Disease Coverage Requirements – The bill imposing new coverage requirements for end stage renal disease (ESRD), spearheaded by the dialysis industry, does not appear to be included in the end-of-year package. The Council was opposed to this requirement and is pleased to see it omitted.
Our legal team at Steptoe & Johnson continues to sift through the 4,000+ page bill to identify any additional provisions that could impact your business or your clients. We will be in touch, as needed, with details as they are available.