2017 is already a-buzz with activity as a soon-to-be inaugurated President and new Congress begin to execute what is sure to be a jam-packed policy agenda. Members of Congress were sworn in for the 115th Congress on January 3, 2017, and on January 4 the Senate agreed by a largely party-line vote (51-48) to begin debate on the anticipated repeal of Obamacare.
The repeal is housed in a fiscal year 2017 (FY17) budget resolution because votes associated with this type of vehicle require only a simple majority, rather than a 66-vote super majority, to pass the Senate. After being considered by the Senate, the resolution is expected to pass the House without amendment. There remains little consensus in either the House or Senate on the timeframe for, or nature of an Obamacare replacement.
Funding for most of the government is currently operating on a Continuing Resolution (CR) until April 28, 2017. To fuel American priorities, it is imperative that Congress complete the FY17 appropriations process by passing the bills negotiated last year, rather than defaulting to a full-year CR for FY17. In terms of FY18, it is unclear whether the President-elect plans to introduce a budget. What is clear is that unless a deal is struck to lift the sequestration caps, our nation faces austerity-level funding insufficient to safeguard and advance the priorities of the American people.
Congressman Tom Price (R-GA-06) has been nominated by President-elect Trump for Secretary of Health and Human Services and his first confirmation hearing, which will be conducted by the Senate HELP Committee, is scheduled for January 18. Research!America submitted suggested questions to HELP Committee Chairman Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Murray (D-WA).
On January 3, Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN-03) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI-03) introduced the Protect Medical Innovation Act, to permanently repeal the 2.3% medical device excise tax. Health care efficiency is increasingly tied to more targeted and accurate diagnostics. Eliminating this tax will encourage investment and fuel faster medical progress.