POLICY BRIEFINGS


Sessions Announces Creation of New Opioid Task Force


The Department of Justice (DoJ) has established a Prescription Interdiction and Litigation (PIL) Task Force to coordinate criminal and civil law enforcement efforts related to opioids and strengthen the Department’s response to the diversion and over-prescribing of pain medication. The Task Force will focus on targeting manufacturers and distributors, including pharmacies, pain management clinics, drug testing facilities, and individual physicians, that could be contributing to the opioid abuse epidemic. It will ensure that companies are following FDA regulations for marketing, and evaluate whether changes are needed to the current distribution system. It will also examine lawsuits brought forth by state and local governments.


HELP Advances Four Public Health Bills


The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee has favorably reported four pieces of public health legislation to the full Senate, including:

  • S.2434, Animal Drug and Animal Generic Drug User Fee Amendments of 2018, which would reauthorize user fee
  • programs relating to new animal drugs and generic new animal drugs;
  • S. 292, Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act, to maximize discovery and
  • accelerate the development and availability of promising childhood cancer treatments;
  • S.2278, State Offices of Rural Health Reauthorization Act of 2018, which would provide grants to improve health care in rural areas; and
  • S.1091, Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act, which would establish a federal task force to support grandparents raising grandchildren.


Labor-HHS Could Face Cuts as a Result of CHIMPS Debate


The fiscal year (FY) 2018 Labor-Health and Human Services appropriations bill could face $5 billion in cuts as House and Senate Republicans negotiate a spending bill to keep the government open beyond March 23, when the current continuing resolution (CR) expires. Appropriators are currently debating whether or not to limit an accounting gimmick known as CHIMPS (Changes in Mandatory Program Spending) to $19 billion that could be used to pay for spending elsewhere. Some republicans support capping CHIMPS at $14 billion.


Members Named to Budget/Appropriations Reform Committee


Sixteen lawmakers (full list below) have been appointed to serve on the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform. The committee was created by the latest bipartisan budget deal (H.R. 1892) and are tasked with providing recommendations to reform the budget and appropriations process. The group will be led by Budget Chairman Steve Womack (R-Ark.) and Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.). The committee will convene at least five public meetings and three public hearings before November 30, when they will offer a report and legislative language approved by a bipartisan majority to both chambers of Congress.

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Appointments

  • Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR-03) – Co-Chair -- Budget Chair, appropriations
  • Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX-32) -- Rules Chair
  • Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA-07) – Budget
  • Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX-19) – Budget



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