Congress Passes One-Week CR and Reaches Agreement for Longer-Term Funding

In order to avoid a partial government shutdown at midnight on April 28, Congress passed a one-week continuing resolution (CR) to provide additional time to finalize negotiations on a fiscal year (FY) 2017 spending bill. The shortterm funding bill was introduced and passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 382-30 early on Friday. Sixteen Republicans and 14 Democrats voted against the bill. The Senate passed the stopgap-spending bill by voice vote shortly thereafter. The seven-day spending measure expires at midnight on May 5. The White House has assured Democrats that the Administration will continue funding Obamacare cost sharing subsidies. The payments were one obstacle that threatened to lead to a government shutdown. Democrats had said that they would oppose any spending bill that did
not ensure the continuation of the cost sharing reduction payments, a demand that was rejected by GOP leadership. It is still unclear, however, how long the Administration will continue the payments. The White House also backed away from its demand for border wall funding, which had been categorized as a poison pill and deal breaker by Democrats. Congressional leaders were able to reach a broad government funding agreement over the weekend, which includes $2 billion in new spending for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The deal would fund the government through the conclusion of the fiscal year on September 30.

HELP Advances FDA Nominee

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee has advanced the nomination of Scott Gottlieb to be Commissioner of Food and Drugs. He was approved by a 14-9 vote. Two Democrats, Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), joined Republican committee members in voting in favor of Dr. Gottlieb’s nomination. The vote had been postponed in order to allow panel members to review the nominee’s answers to member queries, largely regarding his potential conflicts of interest. Dr. Gottlieb’s answers to a letter from Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) were provided the same morning of the initially scheduled vote. In his letter, Dr. Gottlieb outlines his support for the phasing out of certain antibiotics in the agricultural industry in order to further advance antibiotic stewardship. On the topic of right-to-try, Dr. Gottlieb said that he understood both the importance of patient access as well as the benefits of clinical trials for experimental medicines. No date has been set for a confirmation vote on the Senate floor.

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