During its October 30 Executive Session, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) unanimously advanced the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2013 (S. 1562) by voice vote and without amendment. The bill's next procedural steps include consideration by the full Senate. However, this timeline, as well as the impact of any intermediate discussions, is not yet known.
As expected, Sen. Burr (R-NC), Ranking Member of the HELP Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, offered an amendment during the hearing to eliminate the Hold Harmless provision in the Older Americans Act (OAA) Title III Funding Formula. Though seven Senators voted in Burr's favor, 14 voted against, effectively defeating the amendment. Senators Hagan (D-NC) and Franken (D-MN) joined five of their Republican colleagues in support of the amendment, while Senators Hatch (R-UT), Roberts (R-KS), Murkowski (R-AK), and Kirk (R-IL) voted with a majority of Democrats in opposition.
Prior to the vote, several Committee members weighed in on the proposed change, and expressed a desire to examine the issue further. To that end, HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) pledged to form a bipartisan HELP Committee working group to explore lawmakers' concerns, likely in advance of the full Senate's consideration of the bill. The composition and purview of the potential working group has not been announced.
ADvancing States was pleased to see S. 1562 advance out of Committee. This significant achievement would not have been possible without the skillful leadership of Chairman Harkin, Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Sen. Sanders (I-VT), Chairman of the HELP Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging. While the Committee's approval was critical in allowing the bill to move forward and the reauthorization process to continue, the introduction of funding formula discussions into the negotiations will likely complicate the measure's future movement.
As this process unfolds, ADvancing States will remain committed to a bipartisan reauthorization that protects and strengthens the OAA. We look forward to continued engagement with stakeholders and policymakers in furtherance of this goal.