Congress Completes Work on FY 2017 Appropriations

Congress successfully passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 last week. The bill will fund the federal government through September. The $1.1 trillion government-funding bill includes a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – money that will aid in implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act. The funding bill also includes $500 million as authorized by Cures for the creation of the State Response to Opioid Abuse program, as well as $20 million for programs authorized by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). The budget agreement also adds $295 million for Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program. The President signed the funding bill into law on Friday in order to avoid a partial government shutdown.

Senate to Vote on FDA Commissioner This Week

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has filed cloture on the nomination of Scott Gottlieb to be
Commissioner of Food and Drugs. This procedural step sets up consideration of Dr. Gottlieb’s nomination on the Senate floor for today. If the cloture vote is successful, the Senate could hold up to 30 hours of debate before a final confirmation vote, which will likely occur on Wednesday.

ONDCP Nominee Withdraws; Office Faces Budget Cuts

The President’s pick for drug czar, Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), has withdrawn his name from consideration for Director of National Drug Control Policy, citing family reasons. He will remain a member of Congress. The White House is also proposing to cut the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s (ONDCP) budget by 95 percent, for a total of only $24 million, for fiscal year (FY) 2018.

Democrats Comment on Trump Tax Plan

Senate Democrats have written to Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Mick Mulvaney to express concerns that the President’s proposed tax plan will result in cuts to Social Security and Medicare. President Trump’s proposal would involve trillions of dollars in estimated revenue losses, which the lawmakers warn could undermine entitlement programs. “We write to express our concern that your new deficit-exploding proposal to hand out massive tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires will threaten deep cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other middle-class priorities,” the lawmakers write. The letter was signed by 11 Senate Democrats.

Trump Nominates Assistant HHS Secretary

The President has nominated Matthew Bassett as Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services, Legislation. Bassett has served as senior executive for the health-care companies myNEXUS and Davita Inc. He also has experience working for members of House Rules and Energy and Commerce committees.

Reauthorization Updates

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will mark up legislation to reauthorize the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) user fee programs this week. Current user fee authorization expires on September 30. The Senate Finance Committee will delay a hearing on the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) originally scheduled for Tuesday. The delay was requested by Committee Democrats, who don’t want the subject overshadowed by work to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Funding for CHIP is set to expire at the end of September. A new hearing date has not been set.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings/Meetings

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee executive session to consider the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act and S.934, Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act; 10:10 a.m., G-50 Dirksen Bldg.; May 10

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