The Weekly Hill Update

Washington D.C. The capitol, the seat of the government of the United States.Below is the Federal Policy team’s weekly preview, posted when Congress is in session.

HEADLINES

• The Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump continues amid new revelations that a forthcoming book from former National Security Advisor John Bolton will say that Trump told him that U.S. aid to Ukraine was tied to that country’s investigation Joe Biden and his family.

• Trump is staying busy this week, including a visit from Israeli leaders and a planned release of his Middle East peace plan, and signing the implementing legislation for the new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada.

• Trump also will hold a political rally in New Jersey for Democrat-turned-Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew, and will also hold a rally in Iowa four days before the state’s Democratic caucuses.

HOUSE

  • The House is in session today through Thursday and is planning to take up a repeal of the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq.
  • The House Financial Services Financial Technology Task Force on Thursday will hold a hearing on the rise of mobile payments.
  • The Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday will hold a hearing on infrastructure funding.
  • The full list of this week’s House committee activity can be found here.

SENATE

  • The Senate is consumed with the impeachment trial, allowing limited time for other business.
  • Trump’s legal team this week will continue presenting its defense case, which began on Saturday.
  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday will hold a closed hearing on Iran policy.
  • The current list of Senate committee activity can be found here.

WHITE HOUSE

  • Trump today and Tuesday is meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders and has promised to unveil his long-awaited plan for peace in the Middle East.
  • Tomorrow, Trump will host a campaign rally for Van Drew, who recently switched his party affiliation to Republican.
  • Wednesday, Trump will sign the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, before departing for a Thursday visit to a factory in Michigan and campaign rally in Iowa.

Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

CONCERNS ABOUT CORONAVIRUS GROW ON CAPITOL HILL

As coronavirus cases continue to emerge in the United States and worldwide, lawmakers are seeking briefings from federal health officials about the outbreak that originated in China and what steps U.S. health agencies are taking to protect Americans.

Five cases were confirmed in the United States, but there have been nearly 3,000 people infected and 81 related deaths in China. The virus is from the same family of viruses that caused previous outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.

Senators on Friday received a briefing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Officials told senators that the risk to the American public is low, and that the agency has the resources it needs to address the spread of the disease.

Still, lawmakers are showing concern over the outbreak and are reaching out to the Trump administration for information.

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., a former healthcare executive, called on the administration to declare a public health emergency. Democratic senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker of New Jersey wrote to the CDC and the State Department regarding screening procedures at Newark and other major U.S. airports, and Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., wrote a similar letter to the CDC regarding Detroit’s international airport. Continue Reading

Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

NEW SENATOR JOINS HEALTH COMMITTEE

Newly sworn-in Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., is the newest member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Loeffler took the oath of office last week, replacing retired Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.

Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., praised Loeffler as having the background and skills to “immediately become an effective member of the committee.”

The committee’s jurisdiction includes public health, biomedical research and development including authorization and oversight of the Food and Drug Administration, aging, and individuals with disabilities.

Isakson’s departure from the Senate due to his own health difficulties leaves a significant void in healthcare policymaking. He was an accomplished legislator on a variety of health-related issues and sat at a unique intersection of health policy as a member of both the HELP and Finance committees, the two primary committees of jurisdiction on healthcare. Isakson also was the chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Although a conservative Republican, Isakson is celebrated as a gentleman of the Senate who was eager to work with his Democratic colleagues on issues where they could find mutual interest. Tyler Thompson of the BakerHostetler Federal Policy team served as Isakson’s healthcare legislative assistant for seven years. Continue Reading

The Weekly Hill Update

Washington D.C. The capitol, the seat of the government of the United States.Below is the Federal Policy team’s weekly preview, posted when Congress is in session.

HEADLINES

• President Donald Trump will host a ceremony marking the signing of a trade agreement with China.

• Speaker Nancy Pelosi is likely to send House-passed articles of impeachment of Trump to the Senate, after unsuccessfully seeking procedural concessions from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

• Democrats will hold their final debate tomorrow before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3.

HOUSE

  • The House is in session today through Thursday and will likely approve a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate.
  • The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the Trump administration’s Iran policy, amid ongoing unrest in Tehran protesting that government’s leaders.
  • The Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the Defense Department’s role in competing with China.
  • The full list of this week’s House committee activity can be found here.

SENATE

  • The Senate will vote on the nomination of Peter Gaynor to be administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

WHITE HOUSE

  • Tonight, Trump will attend the college football national championship game in New Orleans between Coach Ed Orgeron’s Louisiana State University Tigers and Dabo Swinney’s Clemson Tigers. Go Tigers!
  • Tomorrow, Trump will host a campaign rally in Milwaukee as Democratic contenders to challenge him participate in their final debate before primary elections begin.
  • Wednesday, Trump will participate in a signing ceremony for a trade agreement between the United States and China.

WASHINGTON: 5 THINGS TO WATCH IN 2020

1. 2020: More of the same or next-level craziness?

Despite a series of near-cataclysmic political events throughout 2019 – from the longest government shutdown in U.S. history and the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to President Donald Trump’s impeachment – the overall political environment remained largely stable during the year.

For example, at the beginning of 2019, 55 percent of voters said the country was on the wrong track; at the end of the year, that number stood at 56 percent, according to Real Clear Politics’ average of polls tracking voters’ sentiment about the direction of the country. Similarly, Trump’s job rating of 44 percent approval and 52 percent disapproval at the end of 2019 largely mirrored his numbers at the beginning of the year.

What about 2020? Are we headed for more of the same? Or will the combination of a Senate impeachment trial at the beginning of the year and the presidential election at year’s end serve as bookends to a political supernova in 2020? Continue Reading

Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

SPRING DEADLINE DRIVES 2020 HEALTH POLICY AGENDA

Few policy issues consumed more political oxygen on Capitol Hill last year than prescription drug prices and surprise medical bills – but without significant legislative achievement on either.

But Congress is going to try again, setting up a spring deadline to force action on key healthcare provisions. Despite the new inflection point, lawmakers remain far apart on drug prices, though they are much closer to agreeing on legislation that would end surprise medical bills.

The budget legislation that Congress approved last month created a May 22 deadline when several popular health programs will expire. Congressional leaders intentionally set this date in the hopes that it would drive action on drug prices and surprise billing, and that legislation to extend the expiring programs will act as a vehicle for major health policy.

Yet despite lawmakers’ professed hopes to ultimately solve both issues this year, there is no evident path to do so amid sharp divisions on policy details. Continue Reading

The Weekly Hill Update

Washington D.C. The capitol, the seat of the government of the United States.Below is the Federal Policy team’s weekly preview, posted when Congress is in session.

HEADLINES

• Congress returns this week from a two-week holiday break.

• President Donald Trump’s impeachment hangs in the balance amid a partisan standoff as Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet decided when to transmit the House-approved articles to the Senate, allowing the impeachment trial to proceed.

• Washington is also consumed with reaction to spiraling tensions with Iran after a U.S. airstrike Thursday killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

HOUSE

  • The House is in session Tuesday through Friday. The floor agenda is focused on legislation requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate perfluorinated alkylated substances, as well as several noncontroversial bills regarding 5G communications.
  • Pelosi says the House will vote on a war powers resolution designed to limit the president’s potential military actions against Iran.
  • The Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing on legislation focused on children’s health and Medicare and Medicaid benefits.
  • The Transportation and Infrastructure Water Resources Subcommittee will hold a hearing on reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act.
  • The full list of this week’s House committee activity can be found here.

SENATE

  • The Senate will vote on the nomination of Jovita Carranza to be head of the Small Business Administration.
  • The Finance Committee on Tuesday will vote on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
  • The Senate impeachment trial of Trump is on hold amid a partisan standoff over rules for the trial – and because Pelosi hasn’t formally transmitted the House-approved articles of impeachment to the Senate.
  • The current list of Senate committee activity can be found here.

WHITE HOUSE

  • Trump today will hold a credentialing ceremony for new ambassadors.
  • Tomorrow he will host the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
  • Thursday, Trump will hold a campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio.

2020 Legislative Calendar

Congressional leaders have finalized the 2020 legislative calendar, which lists the days during the year when the House and Senate are scheduled to be in session. Click here to download your ready-to-print, one-page congressional calendar for 2020. Hang it on your wall all year long! 

Although congressional leaders will make some changes to the calendar as the year progresses, this will give you a good sense of when lawmakers are scheduled to be in Washington. (Note that the Senate’s schedule for January is undetermined because of the likelihood it will be sitting for the impeachment trial that month.)

 

The Weekly Hill Update

Washington D.C. The capitol, the seat of the government of the United States.Below is the Federal Policy team’s weekly preview, posted when Congress is in session.

HEADLINES

• Congress is aiming to wrap up the year by sending a large-scale funding and tax bill as well as a defense policy bill to the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature.

• The House will also vote on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.

• Trump will hold a campaign rally in Michigan on Wednesday – the same day the House is scheduled to vote on two articles of impeachment against the president.

HOUSE

  • The House is in session Tuesday through Friday, the final week of the first session of the 116th Congress. The floor agenda includes impeachment, the trade agreement and legislation to fund the government through fiscal 2020.
  • The Education and Labor Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday, “The Future of Work: Ensuring Workers are Competitive in a Rapidly Changing Economy.”
  • The Foreign Affairs Committee will vote Thursday on a dozen various bills.
  • The full list of this week’s House committee activity can be found here.

SENATE

  • The Senate will vote on the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, sending it to the White House for Trump’s expected signature.
  • The Foreign Relations Committee will vote Wednesday on a package of sanctions on Russia.
  • The Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on the impact of California wildfires on the electric grid.
  • The current list of Senate committee activity can be found here.

WHITE HOUSE

  • Trump today will have lunch with Vice President Mike Pence and participate in a roundtable on regulatory innovation.
  • Tuesday he will host the president of Guatemala.
  • Wednesday, as the House votes to impeach him, Trump will hold a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan.

Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

ACA TAXES ON CHOPPING BLOCK IN YEAR-END BUDGET DEAL

Congressional leaders are poised to announce an agreement today that would permanently repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) taxes on medical device manufacturers, insurers and high-cost health plans as part of a spending package that would avoid a government shutdown later this week.

If the tax provisions are repealed, it would represent an enormous victory for the healthcare industry, which has been lobbying against the taxes since the ACA was enacted nearly a decade ago.

Congressional budget forecasters estimate the medical device tax would generate more than $20 billion over 10 years, while the so-called Cadillac tax on pricey health plans was expected to generate $200 billion. The tax on insurers was similarly projected to raise tens of billions of dollars annually.

Congress was not expected to offset the loss of revenue from those taxes.

Another healthcare provision that could be included in the year-end budget bill would raise the legal age for buying tobacco products to 21. Legislation aiming to end surprise medical bills – which has sharply divided lawmakers struggling to negotiate a solution – was not expected to be included.

House leaders expect to vote on the spending and tax package as soon as Tuesday before moving it to the Senate, where a final vote would send the package to the White House for President Donald Trump’s expected signature. Continue Reading

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