Health Policy Report

The Week in Review

With Congress on recess, news developments in Washington were limited to the White House. On Wednesday, President Trump announced via Twitter that he would be replacing Veterans’ Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin with Ronnie Jackson, the White House’s presidential physician. Shulkin – an Obama appointee who was asked to stay on with the Trump Administration – released a statement after his dismissal, in addition to several on camera interviews, suggesting that the White House wanted to replace him in order to advance efforts to privatize the VA. Defense Department official Robert Wilkie will serve as Acting Secretary until Jackson’s nomination is considered by the Senate.

 

Financial Services Report

Our Take

While the adage about March is that it comes in like a lion and out like a lamb, for those covering financial services issues, it seems like the month came in like a hurricane and left like a man angry at an old rival.  In between, the Democratic Caucus frayed over the banking regulatory relief bill only to see the Senate-passed bill only run into potentially bill killing changes in the House.  A potential trade war started to simmer driving the markets into correction territory.   Congress passed a 1.3 trillion-dollar, 2200-page spending bill to keep the government open through the end of the fiscal year.  And depending on your perspective, either the greatest or the scariest, reality show in history keeps plugging along. 

 

Health Policy Report

The Week in Review

Congress went for an omnibus roller coaster ride last week as lawmakers struggled to negotiate the terms of the legislative package, but ultimately approved a mammoth $1.3 trillion spending bill ahead of the deadline to prevent a government shutdown on Friday. The 2,232-page bill was released late Wednesday night and will keep the government funded through Sep. 30, 2018 and conforms to spending levels of the two-year bipartisan budget agreement reached in February to adjust defense and nondefense discretionary funding caps for FY2018 and FY2019. Despite little time to pour over the details of the package, the House passed the bill 256-167, followed by the Senate’s approval by a 65-32 margin, and finally President Trump – despite a late veto threat – signing the omnibus into law on Friday.

 

Today on the Hill: Trump Issues Veto Threat on Omnibus After Congress Takes Step Towards Recess

Senate lawmakers passed (65-32) the omnibus late last night, seemingly allowing Washington to start their two-week spring recess without the cloud of a possible government shutdown. However, President Trump has disrupted the scent of jet fumes this morning by issuing a veto threat on the omnibus package over Twitter, saying that the bill should include action on the deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) program and more funding for the border wall. Many lawmakers are already en route to their home districts, meaning that the possibility that the package is changed, voted on again by both reconvened chambers, and signed by the President before tonight’s government funding deadline is extremely remote. Given those circumstances, the most likely outcome is the President saving his fight for another day; nevertheless, the government could slip into a shutdown should he fail to sign the bill into law by midnight.

 

Today on the Hill: Omnibus Revealed, House to Vote Today as Congress Hopes to Avoid Shutdown

The omnibus is finally in concrete form after Congressional leaders unveiled the $1.3 trillion package (text) last night. Despite the fact that most lawmakers likely haven’t had the chance to fully digest the 2,200 page bill, House leadership is moving forward with a plan to have the lower chamber vote on the measure early this afternoon. While most lawmakers from both parties are expected to support the final up-or-down vote on the package, the procedural rule vote may prove to be a challenge as Democrats generally vote against rules and the conservative House Freedom Caucus has signaled they will oppose the omnibus entirely. Should those groups hold firm in their opposition, the House vote could be delayed.

 

Today on the Hill: Congress Looks to Work Through Washington Snow Day

It’s a snow day in Washington as the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has shuttered the federal government’s D.C. offices due to an ongoing snowstorm striking the area a day after the official start of spring. However, with lawmakers in town and a government funding deadline looming, it’s unclear how much of an effect the weather will have on Congress’s planned work, both on and off the floor.

 

Today on the Hill: Omnibus Negotiations Drag On as Friday Deadline Looms

While text was initially anticipated yesterday evening, House lawmakers continue to negotiate on an omnibus spending bill that would fund the government for the rest of the 2018 fiscal year and possibly contain ride-along provisions on issues ranging from gun violence to the deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) program. The latest intelligence from House leaders suggest that they hope to release text by midnight tonight and line up a vote in the lower chamber on Thursday. That timeline would leave only one day for the bill to be considered and approved in the Senate before Friday’s midnight deadline that would trigger a government shutdown. A short-term continuing resolution (CR) remains a possibility if leaders feel they are running out of time, but most lawmakers are hoping to avoid that contingency.

 

Financial Services Report

Looking Ahead

Near Term

  • The House and Senate race to complete a spending bill as the Friday, March 23rd deadline for current funding to expire quickly approaches.  Reportedly the text of the proposal is supposed to be released Monday evening, though it is possible it could slip.  It is also possible that negotiations could fail.  This could mean the government shuts down at the end of the week (a scenario we view as unlikely) or that there is another short term continuing resolution passed (more likely), punting these issues down the road once again.

 

This Week on the Hill: Congress Prepares Massive Omnibus Bill; House to Consider Financial Reform, Right to Try Legislation

Congress is hoping to engage in its final funding fight for the 2018 fiscal year as an omnibus package is expected to be considered in both chambers ahead of this Friday’s deadline to avoid a government shutdown. Negotiations are still ongoing, with the House aiming to release text for the omnibus spending agreement sometime today. The omnibus is considered one of the last must-pass legislative vehicles of the fiscal year, meaning that lawmakers may try to secure policy priorities — such as Affordable Care Act (ACA) market stabilization and a solution for the deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) program — as ride-along provisions.

 

Health Policy Report

The Week in Review

House lawmakers started last week hoping to consider an omnibus package ahead of the Mar. 23 government funding deadline, but negotiations have once again proven contentious and floor consideration was delayed to this week. Instead, the House considered ‘right to try’ legislation on the floor, with a suspension vote failing to gain the two-thirds majority necessary to be passed on a 259-140 vote. The bill, which is discussed in greater detail below, is expected to be brought to the floor again this week on a vote pursuant to a rule, meaning it will only need a simple majority to pass.