What Happened, What You Missed: November 13-17, 2023


Congress Averts Shutdown with “Laddered” CR 

Congress averted a government shutdown days ahead of a November 17 deadline through enactment of a 2-part “laddered” CR this week.  Originally conceived by the House Freedom Caucus and introduced by Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), the laddered CR addresses House Republicans’ concerns of voting for another large omnibus funding bill all at once by creating a January 19 deadline for 4 appropriations bills for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 and a February 2 deadline for the 8 remaining FY 2024 spending bills.  While Democratic lawmakers initially panned the idea of a laddered CR, the measure went on to earn widespread support from Democrats over an eagerness to avoid a shutdown ahead of a busy Thanksgiving travel season, as well as a lack of viable alternatives.  However, the CR’s passage does not meaningfully advance the debate on FY 2024 spending levels, and gridlock on appropriations is expected to continue through the holiday season.  

CDC: Childhood Cancer Deaths Dropped 24% in Last 20 Years 

The rate of pediatric cancer deaths in the US declined 24% between 2001 and 2021, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The fall in cancer deaths can largely be attributed to advances in the treatment of childhood cancer, namely leukemia.  However, the CDC data found noteworthy racial and ethnic disparities on pediatric cancer mortality.  While the cancer death rate for all children declined at the same level between 2001 and 2011, Black and Hispanic children saw only a minor drop in cancer death rates between 2011 and 2021.  Public health experts say the financial burden on families with children undergoing cancer treatment as well as limited access to high-quality pediatric cancer treatments like gene therapies may be to blame for these disparities. 

Longest-Serving Physician in Congress to Retire 

Rep. Michael Burgess (D-TX) announced Monday he will not be seeking reelection in 2024.  First elected to Congress in 2022, the obstetrician-turned-lawmaker is the longest-serving physician in Congress, and he currently serves as co-chair of the House GOP Doctors Caucus.  A longtime Republican voice on health care issues, Burgess chaired the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee from 2017 to 2019 and served as the subcommittee’s top Republican from 2019 to 2021.  A stalwart critic of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Burgess played a key role in advancing legislation to overhaul the way physicians are reimbursed by Medicare in 2015. 

White House Announces New Women’s Health Initiative 

President Joe Biden launched the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research on Monday to address a long-standing lack of funding women’s health research and revolutionize how the federal government approaches the topic.  To be led by First Lady Jill Biden, the initiative plans to deliver recommendations within 45 days on ways the Biden administration can improve how research into women’s health is conducted and identify opportunity for additional investment.  While funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has grown for the past 8 consecutive years, only 10.8% of funding is spent on women’s health.  Additionally, while conditions like heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disproportionately affect women, most of the research and testing around these conditions focus on men.    

ICMYI: DC Teased with Possible Panda Return 

Chinese President Xi Jinping hinted in a speech this week that panda could return to Washington, DC when he noted a desire to “continue our cooperation” panda conservation.  Xi’s remarks came following a meeting with President Joe Biden in San Francisco amid rocky relations between the two powers.  The news sparked hope in Washington, DC area residents who have been mourning the recent departure of pandas from the National Zoo, who have since arrived in China. 

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