Health Policy Report (10/19)

Capitol Hill Update

The Senate is poised to take up another targeted pandemic relief bill when the chamber convenes for votes today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said last week. The forthcoming package is largely expected to mirror the previous Senate GOP “skinny relief” effort, including business liability provisions and allocating roughly $500 billion toward unemployment insurance, health care, education, and small businesses. Much like the previous attempt to clear this measure last month, it is expected that all Senate Democrats, and possibly a few Senate Republicans, will vote against a motion to consider the legislation. Meanwhile, broader relief talks between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and White House officials remain at a standstill, as outlined in a recent “Dear Colleague” letter from the Speaker over the weekend.

 

Health Policy Report (10/13)

Capitol Hill Update

While Senators on the Judiciary Committee convene for the Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced yesterday that no votes are expected in the lower chamber this week as Congressional Democrats and the Trump administration remain far apart on the next round of COVID-19 relief aid. After originally walking away from negotiations via tweet last week, President Donald Trump has since indicated that he wants to reach a compromise on pandemic relief aid prior to the Nov. 3. election. While the two sides did find common ground on issues such as health care and $1,200 stimulus checks in the negotiations, there is much work to be done on some of the key sticking points that have held up the negotiations thus far — namely unemployment insurance, state and local aid, and liability provisions.

 

Financial Services Report (10/5)

While the House was scheduled to be in recess – albeit subject to a 24-hours notice to return for a vote if a deal on COVID relief gets made – the Senate was scheduled to be in town to continue to vote on Judges. Then three Senators tested positive for COVID and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that votes for next week would be cancelled. Leader McConnell then attempted to seek a consent agreement to meet in pro forma sessions until October 26th but Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) objected. Leader McConnell will now try to reach that agreement again on Monday, though this time seeking pro forma sessions until October 19. While the difference between a pro forma session and adjournment is minimal, the latter does offer the minority protection against recess appointments by the President.

 

Health Policy Report (10/5)

Over the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that votes for this week would be cancelled and the Senate adjourned after three Republican Senators — Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) — tested positive for COVID-19. Leader McConnell originally sought a consent agreement to meet in pro forma sessions until October 26, but Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) objected, likely with an eye toward keeping vulnerable Senate Republicans in Washington and off the campaign trail. Due the new positive COVID-19 cases in the Senate, however, Leader McConnell will now try to reach that agreement again, though this time seeking pro forma sessions until October 19. While the difference between a pro forma session and adjournment is minimal, the latter does offer the minority protection against recess appointments by the President.

 

Health Policy Report (9/28)

Capitol Hill Update

Congress is expected to conclude its September legislative work session this week before embarking on a month-long sprint to the finish for the 2020 campaign. In the upper chamber, Senators are poised to take up the bipartisan continuing resolution (CR) (textsummary) tomorrow ahead of Wednesday’s Sept. 30 government funding deadline. The measure — which includes extensions for the surface transportation law, National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and expiring health care programs — would punt the funding deadline into the “lame duck” session on Friday, Dec. 11. Meanwhile, the Senate is scheduled to return later in October to begin the confirmation process for Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, with a hearing scheduled in the Senate Judiciary Committee for Oct. 15. President Donald Trump tapped Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg over the weekend.

 

Health Policy Report (9/21)

Capitol Hill Update

Congress will convene today with less than 10 days remaining until the government funding deadline. Congressional leadership is hopeful that lawmakers will be able to take up and pass a continuing resolution (CR) this week that would avert a shutdown on Sept. 30th, but the talks have hit a snag over various lingering issues. Funding for agriculture relief payments, election security, and COVID-19 relief, as well as the overall length of the stopgap funding measure, stand out as key sticking points that have delayed the measure’s official introduction thus far. House Democratic leadership is hopeful they can file the text early this week, but that deadline could end up slipping if the two sides are unable to bridge these differences.

 

TRP COVID-19 Policy Memos

TRP has published a series of memos outlining the numerous policy changes and initiatives undertaken by Congress to address the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. These memos are designed to help your organization track and better understand the steps lawmakers have taken to address existing and emerging issues from the outbreak. As always, please feel free to follow up with the TRP team with any specific questions or feedback.

 

Health Policy Report (9/14)

Capitol Hill Update

Senators failed to advance (52-47) the GOP’s targeted pandemic relief bill last week Senate Democrats, plus Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), voted against the motion to proceed for the underlying bill. The package — which included Republican priorities on child care, liability protections, health care, education, and small business — did not meet the 60-vote threshold required to advance the measure for full consideration on the floor. While Congressional Democrats continue to push for a more robust stimulus package to address existing and emerging issues related to the pandemic, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has reiterated her willingness to strike a relief agreement that totals below the $3 trillion outlined in the House-passed HEROES Act. Negotiations between the two sides are expected to continue when the House convenes for votes this week. However, the likelihood of a deal getting struck prior to both the Nov. 3 election and the end of this congressional session remains precarious, as both sides still remain far apart on the overall size and scope of the relief package.

 

Health Policy Report (8/31)

Capitol Hill Update

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows did not move closer to a deal on the next round of pandemic relief aid, as the two sides remain far apart on the size and scope of the next package. The two lead negotiators held a roughly 25-minute phone call last week to discuss the legislation, with Speaker Pelosi noting that the Democrats are willing go to down to $2.2 trillion as a starting point for the next bill. With Congress set to return after Labor Day, it’s likely that negotiations will remain on ice until after the holiday.

 

Health Policy Report (8/24)

Capitol Hill Update

Over this past weekend, House lawmakers convened for a rare Saturday session, passing (257-150) legislation that seeks to shore up the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). House Oversight and Government Reform Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney’s (D-NY) bill would: (1) provide the USPS with $25 billion to cover revenue losses; (2) reverse service and operational changes implemented earlier this year; and (3) require that all election-related mail be treated as first-class to ensure priority delivery. While 26 House Republicans joined all Democrats in voting for the Delivering for America Act, the measure is not expected to be taken up in the GOP-controlled Senate. The Trump Administration issued a veto threat against the bill late last Friday, arguing that USPS “needs reforms that will return it to a trend of long-term financial self-sufficiency.”