Lawmakers Work to Pass Short-Term CR Ahead of Jan. 19

Lawmakers again face a looming deadline to pass a spending agreement and avoid a government shutdown this week. Congress is likely to pass another short-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government past the January 19 deadline into late February. Negotiators need additional time to agree upon raising the budget caps for defense and non-defense programs, which will then make it possible to draft an omnibus spending package. The short-term CR is unlikely to include any controversial add-ons, such as individual health insurance market stabilization measures. Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) says that such provisions are more likely to be considered for inclusion in the omnibus package. Sen. Alexander, along with Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.), have expressed hopes that the omnibus will also include additional funds to combat the opioid epidemic. Additionally, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has asked GOP leadership to raise the government’s borrowing authority by the end of February. Mnuchin has expressed a preference for raising the debt limit ahead of when the country faces a potential default, currently estimated to occur in March or early April. It is possible that the debt limit increase could be attached to the long-term government funding bill.

Gottlieb Lists Opioids, Generic Competition as Top Priorities in 2018 Roadmap

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, released the agency’s Strategic Policy Roadmap for 2018, which focuses on the opioid crisis, nicotine addition, generic competition, and aiding consumer healthcare decision-making. The roadmap outlines four priority areas: reducing the nation’s burden of addiction (both nicotine and opioid); promoting generic drug competition and other industry innovation; empowering consumers to make better healthcare decisions and expanding opportunities to use nutrition to combat chronic disease, often through digital health technology; and strengthening FDA’s scientific workforce and its tools for efficient risk-management.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings and Meetings

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing “Facing 21st Century Public Health Threats: Our Nation’s Preparedness and Response Capabilities, Part I;” 10:00 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.; January 17

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing “Unintended Consequences: Medicaid and the Opioid Epidemic;” 10:00 a.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg.; January 17

House Ways and Means Committee hearing “The Opioid Crisis: The Current Landscape and CMS Actions to Prevent Opioid Misuse;” 10:00 a.m., 1100 Longworth Bldg.; January 17

House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee markup of H.R. 1876, the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act, H.R. 2026, the Pharmaceutical Information Exchange (PIE) Act, and H.R. __, the Over-the-Counter Monograph Safety, Innovation, and Reform Act; 10:00 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.; January 17

Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing “The State of the VA: A Progress Report on Implementing 2017 VA Reform Legislation;” 2:00 p.m., 418 Russell Bldg.; January 17

Senate Judiciary Committee hearing “The Long-Term Care Needs of First Responders Injured in the Line of Duty;” 2:30 p.m., 226 Dirksen Bldg.; January 17

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