Welcome from Washington, DC where the leaves continue to fall, and the temperature remains much like Congress – a mystery as to what happens next. This weekend saw a round of football where your author did not bother to watch his failing New York Giants lose again, but he did get pleasure in watching the Cowboys fall to the Eagles. With the cheers from my jubilant four-year-old daughter, I watched the second Paw Patrol Movie this weekend: The Mighty Pups, on a big screen while both wanting the movie to end quickly but also fearing what will happen with my daughter’s behavior once the movie concluded (I got her to focus her energy after the movie by bribing her with Chick-Fil-A). Of course, the entire situation reminded me of Congress and funding the government – facing an unsatisfactory continuing resolution which can make the average person cringe as lawmakers will most likely go home and blame the other side for a failure to produce a working budget. We are 12 days away from the government running out of money… no need to worry! Welcome to the Week Ahead!
The Biden Administration spent part of the weekend dismissing new polling which shows only 33% of Americans view Biden favorably, but it also shows only 29% view Trump in a favorable light. The administration says polling one year away from Election Day is not representative of Election results. The Biden Administration continues to move forward with its domestic policy agenda in health care following the release of its artificial intelligence (AI) executive order. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra will testify at a Senate Appropriations Full Committee Hearing on Wednesday to discuss the President’s supplemental request for HHS. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will continue its patient focused listening sessions on Medicare drug pricing negotiations. The listening sessions focus on input from patients, caregivers, and advocacy organizations on certain medications selected for drug pricing negotiations. This policy continues to be a top priority of the Biden Administration heading into 2024. The sessions are open to the public and will continue through November 15.
The Senate is in session today and will hold a procedural vote for President Biden’s nominee to lead the National Institutes of Health, Monica Bertagnolli. The nomination is expected to pass the upper chamber with bipartisan support with a final vote expected tomorrow. Senators are also moving forward with conversations on a bipartisan supplemental appropriations package which could link border security funding to aid for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan. Last week’s House passed package for Israel funding for $14.3 billion is considered a non-starter in the Senate due to opposition from the administration and Senate leadership.
As the Senate continues to track bipartisan policy issues such as mental health, the Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law will conduct a hearing on “Social Media and the Teen Mental Health Crisis” on Tuesday. As mentioned in previous reports, the Senate continues to take the lead on policy related to AI with two committee hearings scheduled this Wednesday. The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs will hold a hearing entitled, “The Philosophy of AI: Learning from History and Shaping Our Future”. Additionally, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security, will hold a hearing entitled, “Avoiding a Cautionary Tale: Policy Considerations for Artificial Intelligence in Health Care.” In other notable activity for this Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a markup on mental health and a pharmacy benefit reform package. The package includes language previously introduced in July on PBMs, as well as includes language on expanding mental health care under Medicare and Medicaid and reducing prescription drug costs for seniors. The package also includes Medicaid and Medicare provisions that will expire this year, as well as changes to Medicare payment to support physicians and other professionals.
With 12 days remaining until government funding expires, all eyes remain on the House for what is to come on what happens next. Newly anointed Speaker Johnson will look to move a funding bill this week to prevent a government shutdown. The House Republican Conference meets tomorrow in a closed meeting and details are expected to emerge as to next steps after the gathering. Intel from the Hill suggests the Speaker favors a clean government funding bill through January 12th. This package could be the easiest to get through the House and provide the House to gather more time for a long-term spending package. Other pathways for government funding mentions a “laddered approach CR” which would extend government funding for each agency for different periods of time, and funding that is tied to H.R. 2 – a GOP immigration bill. These two approaches are guaranteed to go nowhere in the Senate and are also opposed by the administration. In other appropriations business, the House passed its (FY) Interior-Environment spending bill last week and was held up on final passage of its Transportation-HUD appropriations bill as Republican members from the Empire State expressed concerns over cuts to public transit.
Create a great week!