Week Ahead: Full House – Approps and SOTU This Week

Kicking of Women’s History Month, Nikki Haley won the primary in the District of Columbia, making her the first woman to win a Republican primary in US history. The other big news of the weekend was that congressional leadership, along with congressional appropriators, released a bipartisan package of six bills to stave off a government shutdown.  The goal of both chambers is to pass the spending bills by Friday’s partial government funding deadline.

The Administration

President Biden will deliver the State of the Union this Thursday, as the administration hopes to land a winning message with voters.  The President will focus on his accomplishments to include infrastructure and others, while he makes the case for another term. The President will rally around staying the course to continue steady progress as opposed to new leadership. Themes will focus on corporations paying their fair share, protecting democracy, and ending cancer among others.  Despite having the bully pulpit, many polls show President Biden losing to Donald Trump if the election was held today.

The Senate

The Senate will take up the bipartisan appropriations bills once they are passed by the House to avoid a partial government shutdown on March 8.  All signs appear to point to passage, but we can never be too certain in this environment.  The bills included are Agriculture-FDA, Commerce-Justice-Science, Energy-Water Development, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-VA, and Transportation-HUD.  Both sides of the aisle are claiming victory on this package, as funding in many areas largely remains flat.  Funding for the remaining bills will run through March 22 per the earlier passed continuing resolution.



On Wednesday, March 6, the Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing on how primary care improves health efficiency.  Additionally on Thursday, the Senate HELP Committee will hold full committee hearing on the Older Americans Act.  The OAA is usually met with bipartisan support.

The House 

The House is back in on Tuesday, with 5 bipartisan health policy-related bills on the schedule for the week, covering issues including maternal health, pediatric research, dental health, promoting primary care in Medicaid, and reauthorizing the Firefighter Cancer Registry.


Drawing more attention though will be the House’s consideration of a legislative package that was released Sunday that will finalize funding for government programs and agencies through the remainder of Fiscal Year 2024.  In the closely divided Congress, the package gives both parties victories to champion while there will certainly be detractors among their ranks as well. While Republicans are celebrating certain cuts and law enforcement provisions, Democrats are touting their own success in stopping many cuts and policy riders that Freedom Caucus members had been pushing. Even with some naysayers, the House is expected to pass the legislation by a large margin before sending it to the Senate later this week.



In addition to funding these agencies and programs, the appropriations package includes expiring programs included the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH) Program, the Work Geographic Practice Cost Index (GPCI) Floor, and funding for Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THC GME), Community Health Centers (CHCs), and the National Health Service Corps (NHSC). House Energy & Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) praised the agreement which includes a 10 percent increase for CHCs, a 17% increase for the NHSC, and a 56% increase in THC GME. In addition, after much back and forth, the legislation also provides a 1.68% increase in Medicare physician payments to help mitigate the 3.34% cut in Medicare payments that took effect on January 1.


While the final package also includes measures to reauthorize substance abuse programs under the SUPPORT Act, despite previous optimism, negotiators were unable to reach an agreement on larger health legislation on pharmacy benefit manager reforms, site neutral payment policies, and a reauthorization of the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA). Conversations continue on these measures with action later this year still very much a possibility.


With a busy week for health policy on the House floor, it will be a little quieter week in most House committees. That said, the House Oversight & Accountability Committee’s Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic will hold what could be an interesting hearing on Wednesday, March 6, titled the “White House Role in Pandemic Preparedness and Response,” where it will hear testimony from Maj. Gen. Paul Friedrichs, M.D. (ret.), the White House’s Director of the Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy.


As always, please reach out with any questions as we continue to track the developments of this week!

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