Congressional Corner




 May 18, 2017


Congress and the Executive

Federal Budget update

It is expected that President Trump will release his full budget for FY18 on May 23, although there is a very slight possibility that the President’s budget may be delayed until June. Typically, the President’s full budget includes more detailed funding level requests and proposed changes to programs for federal agencies. It is important to keep in mind that the President’s budget is a document that outlines the administration’s funding priorities for the upcoming fiscal year and that Congress has the authority to approve, reject, or modify the recommendations included in the budget. ASTHO will monitor and provide analysis as information becomes available.

As a reminder, the President’s budget blueprint, released in March, proposed deep cuts to federal agencies that fund state and territorial public health. ASTHO released an official statement in response to the budget blueprint.

Additionally, during the next couple of weeks, Congress will begin to develop a budget resolution to set the overall amount of funding for the federal government. Later this summer, Congress will then draft their annual appropriations bills. Another important factor is the sequestration returns this year, which translates to an overall $3-5 billion cut to non-defense discretionary spending. ASTHO will continue to urge Congress to provide sustained and increased funding for public health.

Zika Hearing Scheduled

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing entitled, “U.S. Public Health Response to the Zika Virus: Continuing Challenges.” The hearing will take place on May 23 at 10 a.m. EDT and will “examine challenges and concerns with the U.S. public health response to the Zika virus outbreak, including the ability to determine the link between Zika and other illnesses, the efficacy and limits of available diagnostic testing, the status of vaccine development, and the federal government’s plan to respond to the potential future spread of the virus.”

Confirmed to testify are:

  • Timothy Persons, PhD, Chief Scientist, U.S. Government Accountability Office
  • Lyle R. Petersen, MD, MPH, Director, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Luciana Borio, M., Acting Chief Scientist, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  • Anthony Fauci, MD, Director, National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health
  • Rick A. Bright, PhD, Director, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority; Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

ASTHO will monitor the hearing and provide an update in next week’s Congressional Corner. More information about the hearing can be found here.



The Democratic Caucus sent a letter to Senate Republicans requesting that “the Senate work in a bipartisan, open and transparent way to improve and reform the health care system” with the goals of lowering costs, improving quality, and expanding coverage for all Americans.

Opioid Treatment Bill Introduced

Seven senators introduced legislation this week that aims to provide states an option to allow Medicaid to pay for individuals between ages 22 and 64 to treat substance use disorders at certain facilities. The proposed law is meant to roll back an existing law that was intended to prevent institutionalization by blocking payment at substance abuse treatment facilities with more than 16 beds. Current co-sponsors include: Portman (R-OH), Brown (D-OH), Capito (R-WV), King (I-ME), Collins (R-ME), Manchin (D-WV), and Booker (D-NJ). Text of the legislation is not yet available but more information can be found here.

Rebekah Gee Featured on Public Health Funding

Louisiana Secretary of Health Rebekah Gee, MD, was featured in a recent interview highlighting the critical need for sustained public health funding, especially in the face of a potential Zika outbreak. ASTHO shared this interview with the Congressional Louisiana delegation.

Agency News

FDA issued a guidance entitled “Three-Month Extension of Certain Tobacco Product Compliance Deadlines Related to the Final Deeming Rule.” As a reminder, this rule allows FDA to regulate all tobacco products including e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah, and pipe tobacco. The guidance states that “all provisions with compliance dates that have already occurred—such as mandatory age and photo-ID checks to prevent illegal sales to minors—will remain in effect. The FDA will continue to enforce such requirements. For all future compliance dates related to the final deeming rule, the FDA is deferring its enforcement for an additional three months. Provisions for which this extension will apply include, but are not limited to: submission of cigar rotational warning plans; registration and listing; ingredient listing; health documents; substantial equivalence (SE) exemption requests; SE applications; premarket tobacco product applications; and harmful and potentially harmful constituent reports.” More information on the rule can be found here.