Last week, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) visited the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) for the first of two Senate confirmation hearings that resulted in the longest HELP confirmation hearing in over twenty years. The HELP hearing was heated, partisan, and merely a warm-up for what is expected in the Senate Committee on Finance this Tuesday. The Senate Committee on Finance is the only committee to vote on whether Price’s nomination should proceed. Arguments in favor and against Price’s confirmation should be familiar as eight senators from the Senate HELP Committee also sit on the Senate Finance Committee. Senate Republicans are expected to praise Price’s work as a doctor and legislator. They see him as the best choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) during the repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Senate Democrats are expected to advocate for a thorough vetting process and do what they can to stall Price’s confirmation. Questions regarding Medicare and Medicaid policy, the Affordable Care Act, the repeal and replace process, the role of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and Price’s investment in a medical device company are all likely.
House to Consider Pro-Life Legislation
On Tuesday, January 24, the House is scheduled to consider, H.R. 7, No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017. H.R. 7, introduced by Pro-Life Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), permanently prohibits federal funding for abortion and the funding for any insurance plan that includes abortion services. This bill overwhelmingly passed the House in both the 113th and 114th Congress and is expected to be favorably reported by the chamber on Tuesday. The consideration of the pro-life legislation coincides with the annual March for Life which will take place on Friday, January 27.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Tuesday, January 24: The House Committee on the Budget will hold a hearing titled “Consideration of Rules of the Committee on the Budget for the 115th Congress and Consideration of the Committee on the Budget’s Oversight Plan for the 115th Congress.”
- Tuesday, January 24: The Senate Committee on Finance will hold a hearing on the nomination of Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) to be the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Tuesday, January 24: The House Committee on the Budget will hold a hearing titled “The Failures of Obamacare: Harmful Effects and Broken Promises.”
- Tuesday, January 24: The House Committee on Appropriations will hold their Organizational Meeting for the 115th Congress.
- Tuesday, January 24: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold their Organizational Meeting for the 115th Congress.
- Tuesday, January 24: The House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight will hold their Organizational Meeting for the 115th Congress.
- Tuesday, January 24: The House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight will hold a hearing titled “Examining the Effectiveness of the Individual Mandate under the Affordable Care Act.”
- Tuesday, January 24: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will hold an organizational business meeting to consider an original resolution authorizing expenditures by the committee during the 115th Congress, committee rules, subcommittee membership and jurisdiction, and the nomination of Betsy DeVos of Michigan to be the Secretary of Education.
Executive Branch Activity
President Trump Issues Executive Order on ACA
On Friday, January 20, President Trump signed an executive order giving federal agencies, primarily HHS, broad authority to take action to ease the regulatory requirements of the ACA. The executive order did not direct any specific actions and only gives agencies authority to act subject to the limitations of current law, but focuses on provisions that cause fiscal and regulatory burden. The order also “encourages interstate commerce for health insurance.” Although congressional action will be needed to make the most substantial changes to the ACA, President Trump said his administration would “seek the prompt repeal” of the 2010 law. Earlier this month, the Congress took the first step toward repealing the ACA through the budget reconciliation process.