Congressional Corner

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Jan. 18, 2018

Federal Funding

The House is expected to vote on the Continuing Appropriations Act (H.R. Res 125) at 8 p.m. tonight. This bill extends funding for the federal government through Feb. 16 and also extends funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to FY23. If the House approves the bill, it will then move to the Senate, where 60 votes are needed for approval, and then to the president, who must sign it into law to avert a government shutdown. Funding for the federal government expires at midnight on Jan. 19.

The current environment in Washington, D.C. remains extremely fluid. No one knows whether Congress and the Administration will find a path forward. ASTHO will provide updates as they become available.  

Nomination Watch

The Senate Finance Committee voted 15-12 to advance the nomination of Alex Azar as secretary of HHS. The Senate has not yet scheduled a vote, but it is likely that Azar will be confirmed by the end of the month.

On Jan. 18, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee will vote on the nomination of Brett Giroir to serve as HHS’s assistant secretary of health.

Senate Hearing on Public Health Threat Preparedness

On Jan. 17, the Senate HELP committee held a hearing to begin discussions to reauthorize the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act. Witnesses included:

  • Stephen Redd, director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response.
  • Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of FDA.
  • Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at HHS.

It is important to note that Sen. Murray, ranking member of the Senate HELP committee, expressed her frustration that Brenda Fitzgerald, director of CDC, could not testify due to conflicts of interest.

Other topics discussed included: infectious disease, bioterrorism and terrorism, and natural disasters.

More information about the hearing can be found here.

The Senate HELP committee has another hearing scheduled for Jan. 23, with discussion centering around U.S. preparedness and response capabilities.