The Weekly Update, September 11


Good morning from Washington where we hope you are off to a great start for the week. Today marks the 22nd anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks where nearly 3,000 lives were claimed. Many Americans will take a moment to reflect on the events which transpired on that day. Efforts continue to this day to recover the remains of unidentified victims. Never forget the lives lost.

In other events, Novak Djokovic won his 24th grand slam singles event by winning the US Open. However, the real story was the 19-year-old American Coco Gauff winning the women’s singles drawing praise from world leaders and celebrities alike. I can tell you who did not draw praise, my New York football Giants as they lost last night in their season opener to the Cowboys 40-0. I am hoping things will get better – something I am sure Speaker McCarthy is telling himself as the House returns to session today with a government shutdown looming. He is facing tough opposition from the Freedom Caucus, as previously reported and right now a government shutdown is on the horizon! Welcome to the Week Ahead!

The Administration

The White House wants a $40 billion supplemental budget request with $24 billion for Ukraine and $16 billion for disaster relief for Hawaii, Florida, and Vermont, among others. The supplemental request is sure to be met differently by the House than the Senate. Speaker McCarthy may try to include the disaster relief funding portion and send that along to the Senate, where it will be sent back to him with the Ukraine money included. The Administration also wants $3.7 billion to be included in a continuing resolution (CR) for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to assist with eligibility verifications of Medicaid and marketplace programs. With millions set to lose coverage in states as pandemic funding erodes, the Administration and several states are working to ensure eligibility verifications across the country. A government shutdown would still allow essential services to run, and the exchanges would remain open. If a shutdown occurs, HHS expects to furlough 40 percent of its employees, but those staff who work on Medicare, Medicaid, and other mandatory programs will still work.

The Senate

In contrast to the House, the Senate continues to work in bipartisan fashion on appropriations. The Senate will likely vote on a “minibus” for MilCon-Agriculture-Transportation/HUD on Wednesday following a procedural vote tomorrow.  The Senate will give the Biden nominee to head up the National Institutes of Health a hearing in October. The Senate HELP Committee chair, Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), lifted the hold after expressing concerns that President Biden needed to do more to lower drug prices. Senator Sanders had the hold on since spring, but he feels better considering recent actions taken by HHS and a White House commitment to continue the fight on lowering the price of prescription drugs.

Majority Leader Schumer will move forward with his briefing sessions on cybersecurity and artificial intelligence (AI) hosting the leaders of Meta, Alphabet, and Tesla among others. Leader Schumer wants senators to get smart quickly on the use of AI in a variety of contexts, as reports have already come out on China using AI to spread disinformation for the upcoming 2024 elections. The Senate will begin hearings on the various uses of AI this week.

The House

The Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will host a hearing entitled, “Legislative Proposals to Prevent and Respond to Generic Drug Shortages” on 9/14 at 10 am to debate 5 bills. This is a follow up to a Chair Rodgers (R-Wa.) RFP on the topic in August and has been a somewhat bipartisan topic of concern this year. Rodgers’s angle will be about the shortage of cancer drugs and the ingredients in generic drugs that are not readily available. Ranking Member Pallone (D-Nj.) will probably discuss his disdain for the drug industry and practices that he sees as anticompetitive and counter to patient safety.

The Ways and Means Committee will have a Member Day on 9/14 at 9 am. This is the first such member day and comes after months of grumbling about the issue from down dais members, who do not believe that the Committee is doing enough legislatively. The Committee has essentially cleared its health agenda after approving bills related to price transparency, PBM regulations and hospital consolidation. Members will have an opportunity to publicly express their concerns.

Government Funding

With only limited time remaining, we remain on course for a government shutdown. Speaker McCarthy is not receiving cooperation from the Freedom Caucus whose members have openly expressed their willingness to shutdown the government. The Speaker knows a shutdown could be perilous for Republicans headed into the 2024 election. Supporters and detractors of the Speaker have expressed their willingness to shut down the government unless an impeachment vote on President Biden occurs. Moderate Republicans feel not enough evidence exists for such a vote and want to move forward with the Speaker in passing a CR that gets us into November.

Create a great week!

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