Here's the scoop on what's happening this week in Congress
NCDS Policy Staff
April 1, 2022
This week President Biden released his FY’23 budget request, which totaled $5.8 trillion. The budget includes $1.64 trillion in discretionary spending, and calls for increases for police, health research, climate change, education and ensuring fair elections. The increase is roughly 9 percent over the $1.51 trillion recently enacted FY’22 omnibus bill. The request includes $829.2 billion in nondefense funding and $813.3 billion in defense funding, a 14 percent increase for nondefense spending from the $730 billion over FY’22 and a 4 percent increase for defense spending from $782 billion. The President said his budget “sends a clear message that we value fiscal responsibility, safety and security at home and around the world, and the investments needed to continue our equitable growth and build a better America.” The White House projected it would bring about a $1.3 trillion decline in the deficit this year, with tax changes that would result in more than $1 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade, including a new minimum tax on the wealthiest households.
The budget for the Department of Health and Human Services totals $127 billion, a 15 percent increase from the FY’22 level and includes:
$81.7 billion for pandemic preparedness and biodefense;
$28 billion for the CDC;
$161.8 million for Sexually Transmitted Infections;
$12.1 billion to research and develop vaccines, tests ,and treatments for biological threats;
S$25 million, over the next ten years for vaccines for adults targeted to the uninsured;
$470 million to reduce maternal mortality/morbidity rates expand maternal health programs in rural area;
$1 billion to support programs in the Violence Against Women Act; and
Senate negotiators have reached a tentative “agreement in principle” on a roughly $10 billion COVID-19 supplemental funding package to continue to battle the coronavirus. The additional funding will be paid for by repurposing unspent funds from prior pandemic relief laws. This week, President Biden stated that Congress needs to provide more funds to combat COVID-19 and vaccinate Americans before another virus surge. “We can’t wait as we find ourselves in the midst of another surge to act. It will be too late.” Senate Democrats want to clear the supplemental package by the end of next week before both the House and Senate recess for two weeks. House Majority Leader Hoyer said “I don’t want to go home … at the end of next week without having passed COVID-19 dollars that are needed to save lives. This is a life-and-death matter. This is not something we ought to be playing with.”
Other Legislation and Happenings Around the Nation
This week the U.S. Capitol reopened for guided tours for limited groups of people who have registered in advance. Officials said that the reopening will occur in phases, for school groups and other groups of up to 15 people who would be led by lawmakers or their aides. Congressional offices would each be limited to leading one tour weekly. The Capitol Visitor Center is tentatively scheduled to reopen to limited numbers of visitors on May 30.
Idaho abortion providers are asking the Idaho Supreme Court to strike down the state’s new six-week abortion ban which mimics a controversial Texas law. The providers said the Idaho law violates several provisions of the state constitution. They’re asking the state Supreme Court to intervene before April 22, when the law goes into effect.
Arizona’s Republican Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill that will outlaw abortion after 15 weeks, prohibits gender confirmation surgery for minors and bans transgender girls from playing on girls and women’s sports teams.
This week the House passed a bill that would cap monthly insulin copays in private insurance and Medicare Part D plans at $35 a month. The vote was 232-193, with 12 Republicans voting in favor. The bill (HR 6833) is expected to cost $20.4 billion over 10 years, which would be offset by extending a suspension of a rule related to drug rebates by one year to 2027.
The Biden administration has launched a “one-stop-shop” for Americans to locate free COVID-19 resources including tests, masks, vaccines, and therapeutics, and Test-To-Treat locations (all VA clinics, more than 24 federally-qualified health centers, and Indian Health Service facilities) which provide COVID-19 tests and treatments at the same time. The site also has a tool that assesses the level of risk in communities across the country, and is intended to help Americans manage the virus as life begins to return to pre-pandemic normal. The information can be found here: COVID.gov or call: Call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489)
FDA approves Covid-19 boosters for older adults: The FDA has authorized a second Covid-19 booster shot for adults 50 years and older, but FDA officials are expected to stop short of saying people should get them. People 50 and older are now eligible for another shot of either the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines four months after their last dose. Agency officials cited data from Israel showing that second boosters increased antibody levels, while other studies from Israel have shown increased protection against death during the country’s Omicron wave. Pfizer and BioNTech also said they submitted data to the FDA showing some waning of effectiveness three to six months out from the first booster shots. The FDA’s decision came without calling meetings of the FDA’s or CDC’s advisory panels of outside experts, which typically vote to recommend authorizing vaccines and for whom.