Government Shutdown Continues

As the government shutdown persists, the Senate will vote this afternoon on dueling amendments to a $12.1 billion House-passed emergency disaster aid bill, though neither is expected to get enough support to move forward. The Republican amendment, dubbed the End the Shutdown and Secure the Border Act, would reopen and fund the departments and agencies currently subject to the shutdown through the end of the fiscal year, fulfill the President’s request for $5.7 billion to build a border wall, and implement a number of immigration-related initiatives that Democrats generally oppose. The Democratic amendment, which passed the Senate in December, is a continuing resolution through February 8 to allow more time to reach a longer-term deal. The votes are the first the Senate will take to reopen the government.

The House continues to pass bills this week to reopen the government, including measures to fund the Department of Homeland Security at current levels through February 28 and the remaining agencies subject to the shutdown through September 30. None of the bills have reached the Senate floor amid veto threats from the President for failing to fund a border wall.

Trump Hosts Roundtable on Healthcare Pricing Transparency

On Wednesday, the President hosted a roundtable on healthcare pricing transparency with patients who unexpectedly received large medical bills. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta, and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow were among the other officials in attendance. The roundtable preceded two hearings scheduled for next Tuesday during which the Senate Finance and House Oversight and Reform Committees will examine drug pricing.