Here's the scoop on what's happening this week in Congress
The House and Senate were in session this week.
This week the House, by a vote of 217 to 215, passed the ‘‘Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023.” The vote coming after days of Speaker McCarthy arm twisting Republicans to support the legislation. Passage of the bill puts pressure on President Biden to open talks with Republicans. The US Treasury will soon release a new estimate of when the government will be at risk of default with the date expected to by roughly late July. However, some have warned that sluggish tax-return revenues could move up the deadline to early June. Senator Schumer said that the McCarthy’s bill is dead on arrival in the Senate. The McCarthy debt ceiling plan would:
The text of the legislation can be found here
In response to the McCarthy plan, Appropriations Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro published details of what effect the plan would have on programs throughout the government. The analysis can be found here
Senate Republicans blocked a joint resolution to remove an expired deadline for states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment by a vote of 51 – 47. Sixty votes were required to take up the measure. Senate Majority Leader Schumer stated that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and efforts to limit access to the abortion pill mifepristone, as well as state-level actions to roll back women’s rights, have made the ERA and its protections more critical than ever.
A type of penicillin used to treat syphilis is in short supply in the US as cases of STIs continue to rise. Penicillin G benzathine, an antibiotic, was added to the FDA’s shortage list. Pfizer has limited supply of the drug because of increased demand, according to the agency, and the situation may persist into September. This type of penicillin is also used to treat strep throat, which is spreading more than usual in the US, according to the CDC. The CDC said that some STI programs weren’t able to get enough of the medicine. The rate of syphilis in the US is the highest it’s been since 1990, according to recent CDC data. In 2021, there were 176,713 cases of syphilis, a 32% increase from the year before. Other STIs have also become more common. Shortages of penicillin are frequent around the world, which makes it difficult to treat and prevent syphilis, according to the WHO.
Arizona in 2021 led the nation for its rate of syphilis in newborns, and preliminary state data indicates the problem got worse last year. Arizona’s rate of babies born with syphilis in 2021 was nearly three times the national average rate, according to new data on sexually transmitted infections released by the CDC.
In an article in “Today in Emerging Infectious Diseases” researchers describe the epidemiologic characteristics of 118 mpox patients in Los Angeles who were homeless at the time of their diagnosis, and note that 60% also had HIV. All patients were identified from July to September 2022.
Florida Surgeon General Ladapo personally altered a state-driven study about Covid-19 vaccines last year to suggest that some doses pose a significantly higher health risk for young men than had been established by the broader medical community. Ladapo’s changes, released as part of a public records request, presented the risks of cardiac death to be more severe than previous versions of the study. He later used the final document in October to bolster disputed claims that Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were dangerous to young men.
On April 21, the Supreme Court decided to allow, for now, continued telehealth access to the abortion pill mifepristone and to leave the generic version of the pill on the market as the case winds its way through the courts. The decision temporarily puts on hold an unprecedented ruling by a lower court that the administration, FDA watchers, and the drug industry had said severely undercut the agency’s product approval authority. The high court’s order allows mifepristone to stay on the market under the current prescribing and dispensing restrictions, while the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reconsiders the district court’s adverse ruling in the case. FDA chief Califf told lawmakers that the agency would comply with the Supreme Court’s order, but a legal expert maintains that FDA could exercise enforcement discretion for the pill to still technically be in compliance with any potential adverse court ruling.
A federal judge in Idaho has signaled that he is leaning toward issuing an order aimed at blocking the use of that state’s strict abortion ban to prosecute doctors who refer patients to other states to terminate a pregnancy. U.S. District Court Judge Winmill did not rule on the request from two Idaho doctors and several Planned Parenthood organizations who said their First Amendment rights were in danger as a result of a letter Idaho Attorney General Labrador issued last month indicating that out-of-state referrals would violate the law.
Kansas health care providers could face criminal charges over accusations about their care of newborns delivered during certain abortion procedures after the Republican-controlled legislature overrode Democratic Governor Kelly’s veto of their legislation. The new law takes effect July 1, and will require that heath care providers “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care and diligence” to preserve the health of newborns delivered during an abortion procedure that a “reasonably diligent and conscientious” provider would with other live births. The newborns will have to be transported to a hospital, and violating the law will be a felony, punishable by up to a year’s probation for a first-time offender.
North Dakota adopted one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the country as Republican Governor Burgum signed legislation banning the procedure throughout pregnancy, with slim exceptions up to six weeks’ gestation. In those early weeks, abortion would be allowed only in cases of rape, incest, or medical emergency, such as ectopic pregnancy. “This bill clarifies and refines existing state law … and reaffirms North Dakota as a pro-life state,” Burgum said in a statement.
The Republican-controlled South Carolina Senate is set to rehash an ongoing disagreement with the GOP-dominated House over when the conservative state should ban abortion. Lawmakers have less than three weeks left to pass any new restrictions in a legislative session that began days after the state’s highest court overturned a 2021 law and followed last year’s contentious special session that resulted in a legislative impasse. (Pollard, 4/25)
The Texas Senate advanced legislation that could initiate the process for construction of a sculpture of a mother with a fetus visible in her womb on Capitol grounds. The sculpture would be a replica of the “Life Monument,” a bronze sculpture created by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz. The original sculpture was installed in the Church of San Marcello al Corso in Rome last year and is often interpreted as a depiction of the central figures of Christianity, Mary and Jesus. Replicas have since been installed elsewhere.
A GOP-led Florida House panel authorized subpoenas seeking records from two medical organizations that support gender-affirming treatment for minors, the latest move in an ongoing legal and political fight over transgender care in Florida. A House Committee approved subpoenas demanding records from the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Florida Psychiatric Society — two organizations that are party to a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn state regulations that ban Medicaid from covering ban gender-affirming care for minors.
State Rep. Zooey Zephyr stood on the Montana House floor, holding her microphone in the air. Protesters’ chants echoed as they demanded she be allowed to speak. Police officers, some carrying batons, removed her supporters. Seven people were arrested. Monday’s protest came after days in which Zephyr has been prevented from speaking on the House floor after she denounced Republicans for supporting anti-transgender legislation.
Missouri judge temporarily halted enforcement of a first-of-its-kind rule that restricts access to gender-affirming health care for transgender kids and adults, just hours before it was set to take effect. The rule by Republican Attorney General Bailey places requirements on both minors and adults before they would be allowed to receive gender-affirming treatments, such as puberty blockers or hormones. It was set to take effect Thursday, but transgender Missourians and health care providers sued to stop it from being enforced.
he Oklahoma House passed a ban on gender-affirming care for minors, bringing the state one step closer to joining other conservative states who have adopted similar legislation. The bill will now go back to the Senate for a vote before sending it to Governor Stitt for signature.
The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit challenging Tennessee’s recent ban on certain healthcare for transgender minors, arguing the law violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection. The suit targets a law signed last month by Tennessee’s Republican Gov. Bill Lee. Under the legislation, doctors are prohibited from providing certain treatments to anyone under 18 even with parental consent if the procedure is used as part of transgender healthcare.
A memo sent to Texas Department of Agriculture employees stated that workers should dress “in a manner consistent with their biological gender.” Employees who don’t follow the new rules could be disciplined or fired, according to the memo. Advocates for LGBTQ people in Texas said the directive appears to target transgender people and could run afoul of federal anti-discrimination laws.