Healthcare on the House Floor
The House and the Senate are in session and moving forward with legislative activity. In the House, final committee rosters are set. The Senate is expected to approve an organizing resolution this week once Republicans complete their committee assignments.
Four health bills will be on the House floor this week that are firmly focused on putting COVID-19 in the rearview mirror. One bill would end the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) and another would end the national emergency first declared by President Trump. The third bill would lift vaccine requirements for healthcare workers, and the fourth would force the federal government to return to its pre-pandemic telework policies—responding to business and local government concerns about how pandemic policies have negatively impacted areas with high numbers of federal employees. These bills serve one purpose: to make the political point that the PHE is over and it is time to move on. These bills are timed to coincide closely with the mid-February deadline for the 60 days’ notice that the Biden Administration has committed to give prior to ending the PHE.
There will also be three health-related hearings in the House this week. These are the first hearings in the House, which makes them significant to watch for congressional tone. The first, in the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, is a legislative hearing examining bills focusing on fentanyl, the 988 suicide hotline and Quality Adjusted Life Year measures. The E&C Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation will hold a hearing on the COVID-19 pandemic origin. At the same time, the House Oversight and Accountability Committee will hold a hearing on federal COVID-19 pandemic spending.