Senate OKs Opioids Response Bill as Lawmakers Scramble to Pass Final Measure

The Senate this week overwhelmingly approved legislation to address the opioid crisis, and now Congress is racing to cobble together a final measure that could pass before the midterm elections in November.

The Senate-passed legislation is sweeping in scope: It is composed of more than 70 individual bills approved by five committees. Packaged together, this legislation would expand access to medication-assisted treatment, crack down on illicit drug shipments in the mail and create new funding to spur research on nonaddictive painkillers.

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Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

Below is this week’s “Capitol Hill Healthcare Update,” posted on Mondays when Congress is in session.

Featured in this week’s Update, the Senate votes today on opioids legislation (the House is not in session this week); Congress reaches an agreement on fiscal 2019 healthcare funding; the pharma industry last week suffers both a setback and a victory on the Hill; House, Senate advance pharmacy “gag clause” bills; and more.

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New Tax Cuts Win Approval But Unlikely To Advance in Senate

Building off of last year’s sweeping tax overhaul, the House Ways and Means Committee today approved legislation that would make key provisions of that law permanent.

But while most of the tax policies endorsed by the committee are unlikely to be enacted this year, some could win approval in a post-election lame duck voting session in December.

The sweeping $1.5 trillion tax cut law Congress enacted last December lowers taxes for both individuals and businesses. But most of the tax benefits for individuals and families – from the new brackets and lower rates to the expanded standard deduction – will expire after 2025. Continue Reading

Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

This week’s “Capitol Hill Healthcare Update” includes the latest on a pending Senate vote on opioid legislation as Congress races to enact a response to the crisis before the November election; the Senate votes to expand Sunshine Act disclosure requirements; and a key House Republican backs requiring drug manufacturers to include prices in their ads; and more. (Note: Congress is in recess today and Tuesday in observance of Rosh Hashanah. The House and Senate will reconvene Wednesday for legislative business.)

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The Weekly Hill Update

Below is the federal policy team’s weekly preview, published each week that Congress is in session.

HEADLINES

• The House will continue working through appropriations bills and also plans to take up legislation to reform the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

• The Senate plans to clear broad legislation addressing opioid abuse, and the debate over Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court continues.

• President Donald Trump travels to several states in support of Republican Senate candidates, while also considering a new round of tariffs on Chinese imports.

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Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

This week’s “Capitol Hill Healthcare Update” includes the latest on Congress reconvening after a summer break and facing near-term deadlines on government funding, including for healthcare agencies and programs; whether Congress will approve opioids legislation before the November elections; an unlikely alliance of Senate Democrats and the Trump administration on requiring drug manufacturers to include prices in their ads; and more. Continue Reading

The Weekly Hill Update

Below is the Federal Policy team’s weekly preview, published each week that Congress is in session.

HEADLINES

• Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh begins his hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee.

• Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey faces lawmakers in both chambers.

• Congressional primaries Tuesday in Massachusetts and Thursday in Delaware.

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Trump announces trade deal with Mexico, but Congress won’t ratify until 2019

President Donald Trump announced today that the United States and Mexico agreed in concept to overhaul portions of the North American Free Trade Agreement, but Congress won’t be able to ratify the deal until next year – under what could be Democrat majorities on Capitol Hill if November’s elections go poorly for Trump.

Trump made the announcement from the Oval Office with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on speakerphone. Trump said he was “terminating” NAFTA and entering into what he called the “U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement.”

Details of the agreement haven’t been announced, but some specific changes – like on automobiles – were being released by the administration. Continue Reading

Kavanaugh’s Senate Confirmation Hearings Set For Sept. 4

The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin confirmation hearings Sept. 4 on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said the hearings will occur over multiple days early next month as Congress returns from its summer recess. Senators’ opening statements will dominate the entire first day, and Kavanaugh will be questioned by lawmakers beginning Sept. 5.

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Congress’ Push For Self-Driving Cars Stalls Amid Safety Questions

Congress wants to green-light federal standards for self-driving vehicles, but questions over safety and added infrastructure costs have some lawmakers pumping the brakes.

The delay is giving rise to a patchwork of state-based regulations governing autonomous vehicles that could hinder interstate travel and commerce, according to advocates of robo cars. U.S. manufacturers and technology companies are investing millions of dollars in research and testing, and they fear that if Congress doesn’t act soon, other countries could get a head start on innovation. China has pledged to deploy 30 million autonomous vehicles within a decade.

Advocates say driverless cars can reduce traffic congestion, reduce traffic fatalities and promise mobility for disabled Americans. This spring, a coalition of more than 100 vehicle manufacturers, technology companies and disability advocacy groups lobbied congressional leaders to advance federal legislation on self-driving cars.

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