Here's the scoop on what's happening this week in Congress
March 10, 2023
This Week in Congress
On March 9, the President released a summary of his $6.9 trillion FY’24 budget proposal. The budget increases both defense and nondefense spending, and would reduce deficits by nearly $3 trillion over a decade. The budget also calls for tax increases on wealthy Americans and corporations, including quadrupling a tax on corporate stock buybacks to 4 percent and a minimum tax on the richest households that covers regular income and the value of unsold assets. Biden also wants to raise payroll and investment income taxes on households making more than $400,000 in order to help extend Medicare’s solvency.
The budget appendix with detailed appropriations language, ‘analytical perspectives’ and budget justifications will not be released until Monday, March 13. NCSD will send the details of the budget with tables and narrative at that time.
Public Health Highlights include:
$10.3 billion for CDC, 19% over FY’23
$9.2 billion for HRSA, a 3% decrease from FY 23
$10.2 billion for SAMSHA, 28% over FY’23
$48.5 billion for NIH, 2% over FY’23
$2.5 billion for ARPA-H, 40% over FY’23
$3 billion for ACL, 16% over FY’23
$39.3 billion for ACF, a 15% over FY’23
The summary and budget highlights can be found here.
The Department of Health and Human Services and Education budget can be found here
House and Senate Markups
House appropriators are hoping to start marking up the FY’24 bills in May and June, with floor action following in July. House Republicans will face challenges passing the bills in the House. If the bills include significant program cuts, moderates will disagree; but without these cuts, conservatives won’t support the bills. In the Senate, Appropriations Chair Murray said that the Committee will start hearings, and then markups of bipartisan spending bills. Chair Murray and Ranking Member Collins are negotiating a topline that will serve as the starting point. Bills will have an easier to time passing the Senate, but House and Senate conference negotiations are always tense with the House and Senate controlled by different parties. This year will be an even bigger challenge.
Senate Blocks DC Crime Law
This week the Senate, by a vote of 81-14, voted to overturn local D.C. legislation for the first time in more than 30 years. The vote blocked a major overhaul of the DC’s criminal sentencing laws that reduced mandatory minimum sentences for some violent offenses. The President said he will sign the resolution after initially opposing it.
Other Legislative Happenings from Around the Nation
Rising STI rates has prompted an urgent search for solutions. New research suggests that a widely available antibiotic taken after sex may help stem the tide. A single dose of doxycycline taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex dramatically cuts the risk of a bacterial STI, studies have found. The approach seems most effective for preventing chlamydia and syphilis, and slightly less so for preventing gonorrhea.
Vaccine Testing for Mpox and Bird Flu
Moderna Inc. is eyeing possible human testing of shots to fight mpox and bird flu this year, as the Covid-19 vaccine maker expands into more public-health immunizations. The company is exploring messenger RNA vaccines for a number of such pathogens, most of them in the early stages of development. Moderna expects to advance its vaccines for mpox and bird flu to human clinical trials.
Florida Bills Would Ban Gender Studies
Florida legislators have proposed new laws that would reshape K-12 and higher education in the state, from requiring teachers to use pronouns matching children’s sex as assigned at birth to establishing a universal school choice voucher program. The half-dozen bills filed by GOP state representatives and senators come shortly before the launch of Florida’s legislative session. Other proposals include eliminating college majors in gender studies, nixing diversity efforts at universities and job protections for tenured faculty, strengthening parents’ ability to veto K-12 class materials and extending a ban on teaching about gender and sexuality — from third grade up to eighth grade.
Following a wave of political criticism, Walgreens clarified its position on selling abortion medication Mifepristone, saying its pharmacies would do so wherever “legally permissible.” California Gov. Gavin Newsom, meanwhile, said that his state would stop doing business with Walgreens over the issue.
The New Hampshire Senate refused to affirm abortion as an explicit right, but lawmakers are still considering a number of bills on both sides of the issue. The Republican-led Senate voted 14-10 along party lines to reject a bill that would have codified abortion in state law. Opponents said it was unnecessary because current law, which prohibits abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy, is clear.
Colorado Democrats unveiled a trio of bills aimed at ensuring abortion and gender-affirming care in Colorado isn’t subject to legal action initiated in other states, as well as reshaping health insurance regulations around the procedures and prohibiting deceptive advertising by anti-abortion pregnancy centers.
The Michigan state Senate voted to repeal the state’s 1931 abortion ban as well as its sentencing guidelines. The bills is awaiting Gov. Whitmer’s signature.
Five women who say they were denied abortions despite grave risks to their lives or their fetuses sued the State of Texas. The lawsuit is the first time that pregnant women themselves have taken legal action against the bans that have shut down access to abortion across the country since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.