Two Weeks Before August Recess
We are rapidly approaching the August recess, when both the House and Senate will be back home for an entire month. As a result, there is a mad dash to move legislation through the legislative process prior to the long break. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is moving forward its version of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Response Act (PAHPA) this week with a markup on Thursday. We also are anxiously awaiting a full Energy and Commerce Committee markup of at least some of the 17 bills (of which PAHPA is one) that the Health Subcommittee marked up last week. These bills are unlikely to make it to the floor in either chamber prior to the August recess, however, and we are not expecting any floor votes on healthcare-specific bills before the recess. This is likely to set the stage for a very busy fall and winter for healthcare priorities.
On the appropriations side, House and Senate appropriators will be moving more fiscal 2024 spending bills through their respective committees this week. Last Friday, the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education Subcommittee advanced its Labor-HHS-Education bill by voice vote. This is only the first step in a long appropriations process. The Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill is one of the more contentious bills and is likely to see many fights on healthcare spending and abortion policies. When it comes to floor action on 12 annual appropriations bills, it looks like the House may take up two of the less controversial bills prior to the August recess, but the Senate won’t consider any—meaning Congress will have a full plate with regard to appropriations as well when it returns in September.