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Week Ahead: Trying Times in Washington

Not two weeks have passed since the historic felony conviction of former President Trump, and now we could be heading towards another historic felony conviction, this time for Hunter Biden, the son of the current president. If these last few weeks have shown us anything, they show us that history stops for no one. So, let’s get to it. Welcome to the Week Ahead!

The Administration

JUUL Catches a Break from FDA

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the agency is rescinding its marketing denial orders (MDOs) against JUUL Labs, Inc. tobacco products, including e-cigarettes on June 6. These MDOs, issued on June 23, 2022, called for JUUL tobacco products to be removed from the market. Weeks later, FDA issued an administrative stay on the MDOs on July 5, 2022, because “certain scientific issues warranted additional review.” In its June 6 update, FDA cited this review and recent court decisions as the basis for the recession. The agency was clear in its announcement that the decision is not an authorization or denial of JUUL’s marketing applications and that the applications are once again under review.

JUUL wasted no time in celebrating the announcement and noted that JUUL products would be on the market during the review process.

Now What? 

  • Health advocacy groups, such as the American Lung Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, expressed disappointment regarding the decision.  What next steps will they take to pressure the FDA to pull JUUL products from the market?
  • What will congressional opponents of e-cigarettes do in response to this decision?  Appropriations season is underway, and opponents could use funding legislation to direct or block agency action.

Save the Date: June 20 is when the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a request from the FDA to overrule a previous court ruling that found FDA had to consider applications for e-cigarettes one at a time, and could not just reject all of them, according to Inside Health Policy.

The Senate

Stillbirth Prevention Act up for UC?

We are hearing that the Senate could move by unanimous consent to pass H.R.4581, Maternal and Child Health Stillbirth Prevention Act of 2024. This bill would allow Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant funds to be used for stillbirth research and prevention activities. Since this bill has already passed the House, the bill would go to the President’s desk if passed.

But this bill isn’t out of the woods yet. The UC process is dicey because a single senator can stop the process at any point. Senators have been known to block bills even if they agree with the underlying premise but have another issue (i.e. procedural concerns, concerns about related bills not getting a vote).

Health Care Hearings in the Senate

  • June 12: Senate Finance Committee hearing on youth residential treatment facilities
  • June 12: Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on youth vaping

The House

E&C Mark-Up Watch

What we are hearing: The House Energy and Commerce is expected to put out a notice of a mark-up on June 12 of several health care bills. These bills could be on a range of different topics, but we expect them to be non-controversial.

Just because these bills are non-controversial does not mean they are insignificant. Even bills that may not produce rage-inducing headlines can still involve significant appropriations in public health programs and major changes to the health care system. Plus, those non-controversial bills have the best shot of becoming law. Speaking of which…

Health Care Week? 

Just when we thought bipartisanship was dead, rumors of a bipartisan “health care week in the House” keep hopes alive. This rumored health care week would most likely occur in the second week of July and would be marked by votes on health care legislation. What bills would be included? Although we don’t know for sure, we bet that any bills coming out of that expected E&C markup would be prime contenders.

Now that we’ve talked about what might happen, here’s a look at the health care hearings in the House this week:

  • The show-stopper will be CMMI Director Liz Fowler on the hot seat at the June 13 House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing on the CMS Innovation Center.  Director Fowler, a Hill alum, will try to defend the results-to-date of the evergreen funding the learning lab received from the ACA.
  • June 13: House VA Committee hearing on spinal cord injuries and disorders in the veteran community
  • June 13: House Budget Committee hearing on Medicare and Social Security

There You Have It

Flag Day is June 14! Check out these interesting facts about Flag Day. Let us know if you know any other fun facts about the Stars and Stripes. Make it a great week!

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