This Week on the Hill: House Lawmakers to Consider Health Care, Disaster Relief Bills

Health care legislation will hit the House floor this week, as lawmakers are expected to vote on legislation to reverse Trump-era Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations and a pair of bills that take incremental steps toward the broader goal of addressing prescription drug prices. The Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act (H.R. 986) prohibits the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Treasury from taking any action to implement, enforce, or otherwise give effect to the Section 1332 State Innovation Waivers — which allows states to experiment with other strategies to provide health coverage to residents that delivers at least the same level of protections guaranteed under the ACA. Meanwhile, drug pricing measures (H.R. 1503 and H.R. 1520) would respectively update the FDA’s Orange Book and Purple Book to provide better information on brand drug and biologic patent exclusivity. 

House lawmakers are also poised to take up another disaster relief bill (textsummary) in hopes of breaking a months-long impasse over the emergency funds. The latest $17.2 billion offer from House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) includes additional funding for Army Corps of Engineers projects, the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program (CDBG-DR), and the Department of Agriculture's Emergency Conservation program. The bill would also provide an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), pushing the expiration date from the end of this month to Sept. 30 in hopes of providing lawmakers with more time to hammer out a long-term reauthorization measure.

Billions of disaster relief dollars have been held up in Congress since December with funding for Puerto Rico remaining the biggest sticking point. Senate Republicans‘ latest disaster relief offer includes $300 million in new community development funding for Puerto Rico, with language ensuring that the U.S. territory safeguard those funds against waste, fraud, and abuse. While President Donald Trump has reportedly signed off on the provision, it remains to be seen whether Democrats will go along with a measure that does not meet many of their priorities for assisting Puerto Rico.

Elsewhere in the upper chamber, Senators will resume consideration of pending presidential nominees, starting with the nomination of Joseph Bianco to be a Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit Court. A full list of nominations up for consideration can be accessed here