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

Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

YEAR-END LEGISLATIVE OVERDRIVE

This week is crunch time on a host of legislative priorities, and various health-related provisions hang in the balance.

Lawmakers and staff worked all weekend negotiating on legislation to fund the government beyond next Friday’s deadline, when current funding expires. As the only true must-pass legislative vehicle before the end of the year, it’s the last best hope for the policy priorities of many stakeholders, including the medical device industry, which is seeking relief from the Affordable Care Act device tax before it comes back into effect Jan. 1.

With spending negotiations now at the leadership level, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is the primary obstacle for device manufacturers. Device tax repeal or suspension enjoys broad bipartisan support, including from Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Many House Democrats in competitive districts represent significant clusters of industry employees, and those members are continuing to weigh in with Pelosi in opposition to the tax. 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

• The year-end legislative push is accelerating as lawmakers seek to wrap up spending negotiations and other policy priorities this week.

• The House Judiciary Committee continues its hearings into what will likely be articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

• The House is moving forward with broad legislation on prescription drug pricing, as Democratic leaders hope to quell a rebellion from their left flank on the bill’s substance.

HOUSE

  • The House is in session tonight through Thursday. The floor agenda is focused on Democrats’ legislation addressing prescription drug pricing.
  • The Financial Services Committee will mark up nine bills Tuesday.
  • The House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday will hold a hearing with Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley regarding U.S. policy in Syria.
  • The full list of this week’s House committee activity can be found here.

SENATE

  • The Senate will continue votes on Trump’s nominees, including Dr. Stephen Hahn to be commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
  • The Senate Banking Committee will hold an oversight hearing Tuesday on the Securities and Exchange Commission with Chairman Jay Clayton.
  • The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a markup Wednesday on 13 wide-ranging bills.
  • 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 an education roundtable.
  • Tomorrow, he will hold a campaign rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
  • Festivity comes to the White House later in the week, as Trump will attend Hanukkah receptions Wednesday and the Congressional Ball Thursday.

The Weekly Hill Update

Below is the Federal Policy team’s weekly preview, posted when Congress is in session.

HEADLINES

• Congress returns from Thanksgiving break with a full agenda, including working toward a funding bill to keep the government open beyond Dec. 20.

• The House’s impeachment inquiry into President Trump enters a new phase as public hearings move to the Judiciary Committee.

• Trump begins his week traveling to London for a meeting of NATO heads of state.

HOUSE

  • The House is in session Tuesday through Friday. The floor agenda is highlighted by bipartisan legislation targeting robocalls.
  • The Judiciary Committee on Wednesday will hold its first public hearing on impeachment.
  • The House Oversight Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee on Wednesday will hold a hearing on the regulation of vaping and flavored tobacco products.
  • The full list of this week’s House committee activity can be found here.

SENATE

  • The Senate will continue voting on Trump’s nominees, including Dan Brouillette to be Energy Secretary.
  • The Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday will hold a hearing on consumer data privacy.
  • The Senate Banking Committee on Thursday will hold a hearing on financial regulatory oversight with witnesses from the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and National Credit Union Administration.
  • The current list of Senate committee activity can be found here.

WHITE HOUSE

  • President Trump is on his way to London, where he will meet with NATO leaders through Wednesday.
  • Trump’s schedule includes meetings with the leaders of France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and Poland.
  • Trump on Thursday will participate in the 97th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting outside the White House.

Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

HEALTH PROVISIONS FACE UNCERTAINTY AS CONGRESS RETURNS FOR BUSY DECEMBER

Congress returns to Washington this week after the Thanksgiving holiday with only 18 days before the government runs out of money – and that’s not even the most important issue lawmakers will face in what is shaping up as a cramped year-end calendar.

In addition to scrambling to fund the government, the Democrat-controlled House is likely to vote this month to impeach President Donald Trump.

With lawmakers pushing other key items, such as tax provisions, renewing Pentagon programs and the U.S. trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, what’s the likelihood that healthcare provisions will see congressional action?

House leaders say they will schedule a vote in the coming weeks on legislation that addresses prescription drug prices. Among other things, it would require pharmaceutical manufacturers to negotiate prices with the government on 250 drugs; it also would apply those negotiated prices to private health plans nationwide.

It will likely be a party line vote, with few if any Republicans supporting the House bill. Continue Reading

Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

FDA NOMINATION HEARING DRIVES THE WEEK IN HEALTH POLICY

President Trump’s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Stephen Hahn, will appear Wednesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for a hearing on his nomination.

Hahn, an oncologist and chief medical executive at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, is seen by lawmakers as a blank slate – he has a strong resume as a physician but scant policy experience. However, HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., announced he supports Hahn after meeting with the nominee Nov. 6. Meanwhile, Democrats are eager to replace current acting FDA Commissioner Brett Giroir because of concerns over his positions on social issues like abortion.

Still, Hahn is sure to face wide-ranging questions from lawmakers about the mission of the agency he hopes to lead. Senators are also likely to seek commitments from him to focus on certain policy issues.

Given Hahn’s lack of policy track record, senators will want details of his views on regulation of food, drugs and medical devices. Hahn can expect lawmakers to press him on ways the FDA can help to lower prescription drug costs while protecting medical innovation, including Trump’s efforts to allow drug importation. E-cigarettes will be a hot topic, as will cannabis regulation and efforts to stem opioid abuse.

PRESSURE FROM WHITE HOUSE ON DRUG PRICING

Despite bipartisan and bicameral interest, legislation to address prescription drug costs has faced continued delays as lawmakers await budget estimates and struggle with disagreements on policy specifics. President Donald Trump and his deputies are continuing to press the Hill for action.

According to reports from the Associated Press, Trump’s top domestic policy advisor, Joe Grogan, said recently the administration is continuing to press senators to support bipartisan legislation passed by the Finance Committee that would cap seniors’ out-of-pocket costs and require rebates from drugmakers if prices increase faster than inflation. But Grogan also acknowledged the “current complications” including policy disagreements – as well as impeachment consuming the political environment.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and other officials have held multiple meetings with Republican lawmakers across the Hill to try to drive support for the Senate bill.

Yet broad legislation on the issue remains a long shot to reach Trump’s desk. Though Trump previously voiced support for direct government negotiation on drug prices, the administration does not support House Democrats’ bill to implement negotiation, currently scheduled for a vote next month.

The White House views Christmas as an effective deadline on getting drug pricing legislation done because the Senate could be consumed by impeachment considerations in January and even into February. Yet December’s legislative calendar will also be crowded by must-pass items, as lawmakers are set this week to pass a short-term government funding extension to Dec. 20.

Despite the administration’s pressure, most stakeholders are skeptical that lawmakers will be able to thread a needle this year with broad drug pricing legislation that can pass the Republican Senate and Democratic House. 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

• The House plans to take up a short-term spending bill to fund the government until Dec. 20.

• President Donald Trump on Wednesday will visit an Apple manufacturing plant in Texas, as House Democrats continue their impeachment inquiry.

• Ten Democrats seeking the nomination to challenge Trump will participate in their fifth debate on Wednesday, in Atlanta.

HOUSE

  • The House is in session tonight through Thursday. Lawmakers will take up a short-term spending bill, as well as a reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, and legislation aiming to prevent workplace violence in the healthcare and social services industries.
  • The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on the role of big data in financial services.
  • The Energy and Commerce Environment Subcommittee on Wednesday will hold a hearing titled “Building a 100 Percent Clean Economy: The Challenges Facing Frontline Communities.”
  • The full list of this week’s House committee activity can be found here.

SENATE

  • The Senate will continue votes on Trump’s nominees and also plans to process a short-term funding bill.
  • Dr. Stephen Hahn will testify Wednesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for a hearing on his nomination to be the Food and Drug Administration commissioner.
  • The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on Alzheimer’s awareness.
  • The current list of Senate committee activity can be found here.

WHITE HOUSE

  • Trump will meet with his Cabinet tomorrow.
  • Wednesday he will visit Apple’s manufacturing plant in Austin, Texas, with Apple CEO Tim Cook.
  • On Thursday, Trump will present national medals of arts and humanities, including to musician Alison Krauss, actor Jon Voight and author James Patterson.
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