Zika Declared International Emergency

The World Health Organization (WHO) has amplified their concerns about the spread of the Zika virus and declared its spread a global public health emergency. As many as 4 million cases of the mosquito-borne virus are expected in the next year. Bipartisan leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have requested a briefing on the situation in the immediate future from Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Nicole Lurie, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The committee leaders also pose a number of questions to the agencies about their response to the crisis. Following a request from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the administration announced that Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell will brief congressional leadership and relevant committees on the disease this week. Additionally, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) has introduced legislation that would increase funding to research the Zika virus by granting flexibility to federal agencies to use money originally allocated to combat Ebola. As much as half of the $2.4 billion in funding set aside in 2014 to fight Ebola has yet to be used.

Task Forces Announced to Further Republican 2016 Agenda

House Republican leadership have announced the formation of six committee-led task forces that will help further the Republican agenda for the coming months. The task forces are also charged with seeking input from rank and file membership. The Health Care Reform Task Force membership includes Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.), Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), and its goal will be to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with a patient-centered system that gives patients more choice and control, increases quality, and reduces costs. The Tax Reform Task Force is headed by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and will examine how to create jobs, grow the economy, and raise wages by reducing rates, removing special interest carve-outs, and making the tax code simpler and fairer. The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Task Force consists of Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.). The task force’s goal will be to make it easier to invest, produce, and build things in America with a regulatory system that reduces bureaucracy and eases the burden on small businesses and job creators, while still protecting the environment, public safety, and consumer interests.

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