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Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of September 24, 2018 
  
Congressional Outlook

The House and Senate are in session this week. The House will consider 54 bills under suspension of the rules, including the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 302), which reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration through 2023 and includes the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 which reforms several FEMA programs to help communities better prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate against disasters of all types. For the remainder of the week, the House will vote on the Senate-passed $852.5 billion FY 2019 Defense-Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations minibus (H.R. 6157), which includes a 10-week Continuing Resolution (CR) to temporarily fund the remainder of the federal government from Oct. 1 through Dec. 7 at enacted FY 2018 funding levels; the Family Savings Act of 2018 (H.R. 6757), which provides individuals with more flexibility to save for retirement and unrelated businesses to offer joint retirement plans; the American Innovation Act of 2018 (H.R. 6756), which allows new businesses to deduct more of their startup costs; and the Protecting Family and Small Business Tax Cuts Act of 2018 (H.R. 6760), which makes permanent the individual and small business tax cuts from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, currently set to expire in 2025.
 
The Senate will vote on the nominations of J ackie Walcott to be U.S. Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Vienna Office of the United Nations; and Peter Feldman to be a Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission for the remainder of the term expiring Oct. 26, 2019. The Senate will also likely pass the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 302) once the House passes it on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to hear testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford regarding sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
 
On Monday, President Trump will speak at the "Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem" event and will also hold a reception for heads of state. On Tuesday,Trump will address the UN General Assembly and will also have a "pull-aside" meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and attend a luncheon hosted by Guterres; he will have a pull-aside with Maria Fernanda Espinosa, the president of the 73rd session of UNGA, and will also attend Ambassador Nikki Haley's Security Council presidency reception. On Wednesday, Trump will speak at a "POTUS-chaired" UN Security Council briefing on counter-proliferation.
Week in Review

Senate Passes $852.5 Billion FY 2019 Defense-Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Minibus and 10-Week CR
 
On September 18, the Senate passed, by a vote of 93-7, the $852.5 billion FY 2019 Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations minibus (H.R. 6157); the 372-page bill text is available here and the 559-page joint explanatory statement is available here. In addition to providing nearly 70 percent of all federal discretionary spending, the bill also includes a 10-week Continuing Resolution (CR) which will temporarily fund the federal government, at enacted FY 2018 levels, from October 1-December 7, 2018. The CR will apply to the Departments and agencies under the jurisdiction of the seven FY 2019 appropriations bills that will not be enacted prior to the beginning of FY 2019: Interior-Environment; Financial Services; Agriculture-Rural Development; Transportation-HUD; Homeland Security; Commerce-Justice-Science; and State-Foreign Operations. The FY19 funding levels for these remaining bills will be finalized by Congress in the lame-duck period in late November/early December 2018. The House will vote on the Senate-passed FY19 Defense-Labor-HHS-Education minibus during the week of Sept. 24, in order to avoid a government shutdown beginning Oct. 1. Summaries of the FY19 Defense-Labor-HHS-Education minibus package are available here and here. Read more.
Trump Signs $147 Billion FY 2019 Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction-VA Appropriations Minibus Into Law
 
On September 21, President Trump signed into law the $147 billion FY 2019 Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act ( Public Law 115-244), which makes up approximately 12 percent of overall FY 2019 spending. The Senate passed the bill on Sept. 12 by a vote of 92-5, while the House passed it on Sept. 13 by a vote of 377-20. Enactment of the minibus package marks the first time since 2007 that more than one annual appropriations bill was passed on time by Congress prior to the first day of the new fiscal year on October 1. Summaries of each part of the minibus package are available here. Read more. 
Senate Passes SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act
 
On September 17, the Senate passed, by a vote of 99-1, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6), which incorporates dozens of bills that cover Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules, Medicare and Medicaid policies, Health and Human Services Department grants, Justice Department programs, Transportation Department drug testing, and more. The package of 70 Senate bills costs $8.4 billion and creates, expands, and renews programs across multiple agencies, including:
  • Addressing the ease with which synthetic opioids are shipped from overseas;
  • Increasing access to treatment for people with substance abuse disorders, particularly through a grant for recovery centers where people getting over their addictions can find temporary housing, job training and other assistance during that transition;
  • Providing loan repayments to behavioral health providers practicing in substance-abuse disorder facilities in areas of the country where there is a shortage of mental-health professionals;
  • Expanding a program that gives first responders the ability to administer naloxone, the life-saving antidote to opioid overdose; and
  • Allowing the FDA to require drug manufacturers to create blister packs where opioids are administered in a limited three to seven day supply.
The White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy for H.R. 6, stating that the " Administration [...] looks forward to working with the Congress to address the opioid crisis as the legislative process continues." A section-by-section summary of H.R. 6 is available here. Read more.
Senate Passes Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act
 
On September 17, the Senate passed, by a vote of 98-2, the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act ( S. 2554), which prohibits companies that administer drug-benefit plans from barring pharmacists from advising customers of the least-expensive alternative medication that is available. The House is scheduled to vote on the bill this week and send it to President Trump to be signed into law. Read more.