Good morning from Washington, DC where we continue to simultaneously inspire and disappoint. This past weekend we honored our nation’s veterans. Chamber Hill Strategies would like to thank all of those currently serving, as well as all of those who served. We salute you!
We are just a few days away from running out of government funding, and the House and Senate appear to be operating in different orbits. Sound familiar? This past weekend your author did not bother to watch the New York football Giants lose to the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants started a quarterback who just two weeks ago was on the practice squad, and he was put in the difficult situation of trying to lead his team to victory in such a short period of time. One can only think of the similarity to our new Speaker thrusted into the limelight with very little experience as he attempts to lead the House to a satisfactory resolution for funding the government – while balancing internal strife and external dissonance from an opposing party. The clock continues to tick as we are in the last two minutes of the government funding game! Welcome to the Week Ahead!
President Biden continues to push for an emergency supplemental package for funding to Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan with additional funding for border security included. The varying pace of the Senate and the House on funding the government, coupled with varying viewpoints makes for any passage of a supplemental more likely to occur later in the month and not in time for a continuing resolution. The President continues to face challenging poll numbers as he attempts to assist with peace in other areas of the world.
The Administration scored a win last week with the confirmation of the National Institutes for Health Director Monica Bertagnolli, MD. On Tuesday, the Centers on Medicare and Medicaid Services will hold a webinar on its finalized updates to the Calendar Year 2024 Home Health Prospective Payment System (PPS). On Wednesday, CMS will host its conference on optimizing healthcare delivery.
Over the weekend, a bipartisan group of senators continued discussions to develop a stopgap agreement which would include supplemental funding for Israel, Taiwan, Ukraine, and increased border funding. However, with limited time available until the November 17th, the only option in town might be a clean CR to fund the government until January. This would leave any supplemental funding until after Thanksgiving. The Senate is in session beginning today and will continue confirming judges. The upper chamber is waiting to see if the House can pass the “laddered” approach put forth by Speaker Johnson as it relates to government funding. The Senate is scheduled to meet this evening to hold a procedural vote on the legislative vehicle for its funding proposal. It is unclear if Senate Democrats have enough votes currently to pass it.
On the healthcare front, Leader Schumer is hearing from advocates in the drug pricing industry to move forward with a pharmacy benefit manager package which reflects the work of the Senate Finance and HELP Committees. Senator Schumer is running out of time to produce any bipartisan health package as the upper chamber faces uncertainty around government funding. This Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee, Health Care Subcommittee will hold a hearing on telehealth permanency in Medicare to continue beneficiary access. On Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a [he]hearing on artificial intelligence. On Wednesday the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will hold a hearing on emergency preparedness and response.
It appears to be the same old song in the House. Speaker Johnson is facing the same problems as his predecessor. The Speaker realized the honeymoon period is over as last week an appropriations push failed to yield significant results. The Speaker had to pull the Legislative and Financial Services appropriations from the floor because of explosive amendments ranging from defunding the FBI headquarters to abortion issues. He is no closer to the self-imposed Thanksgiving deadline than he was when he took the gavel.
More importantly, government funding runs out on Friday and the Republican conference is not any closer in producing a solution for a stopgap bill that would prevent a government shutdown. Speaker Johnson and his team have floated out a “laddered” plan that would separate different parts of government spending and funding some parts till January 19th and other parts till February 2nd. The proposal would leave government funding at its current levels – which some hardline conservatives oppose. No supplemental funding for Israel, Ukraine, boarder security, or Taiwan is included. Three Republican House members have already come out publicly opposing the approach. House Democrat leadership has not publicly stated whether they would oppose the laddered approach.
In terms of health-related provisions, the bill would extend funding for community health centers, teaching health centers and the National Health Service Corps through January 19. The bill also aims to delay cuts to safety-net hospitals under Medicaid through January 19.
At this point, the Speaker is facing a similar dilemma as former Speaker McCarthy – a good chance exists that he will need Democrats to support his proposal to get it passed. Time continues to tick… Can the Speaker run a successful two-minute drill and take his team down the field for a score?
In notable House Committee meetings this week, the House Committee on Rules will conduct a hearing H.R. 5894 – Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for FY 2024 on Monday. Tuesday will see the Health Energy and Commerce Committee Communications and Technology Subcommittee hold a hearing on “Leveraging AI to Enhance American Communications.” Also on Tuesday the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Health Oversight Subcommittee will hold a hearing on emerging therapies to prevent suicide.
Create a great week!