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News & Press: General

Eyes on Washington: Oct 16th, 2017 Issue

Tuesday, October 17, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: TCAA Staff
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EYES ON WASHINGTON

October 16, 2017

 

In This Issue:

 

  • President Issues Executive Order on Healthcare
  • House Passes New Disaster Aid Package
  • Senate Resumes FY 2018 Appropriations Work
  • DOJ Issues Final Sanctuary City Warning
  • EPA Moves to Roll Back Clean Power Plan
  • The Week Ahead

President Issues Executive Order on Healthcare

 
President Donald Trump said on October 11, 2017, that he would stop making scheduled payments to insurance companies, which help to lower deductibles for lower-income customers. He also issued an executive order (EO) on October 12, 2017, that directs three federal agencies to consider new regulations to increase health care competition and choice, to cut prices. It directs the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to propose regulatory changes to Association Health Plans (AHPs) within 60 days, and asks the DOL, U.S. Department of Treasury and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to propose regulatory changes to short-term health plans within 60 days. Additionally, within 120 days the three departments will propose changes to Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs), and within six months the departments will deliver reports on industry consolidation within healthcare. Supporters of the move, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), have said that it will increase ease in obtaining large group coverage. However, critics have said that it may result in cheaper policies with less coverage, attracting healthier individuals, while sick individuals may have to pay higher premiums. Industry and consumer
groups such as the American Hospital Association have also expressed concern that the EO will allow for fewer benefits and protections. The EO is now open for public comment, which may result in changes not being enacted for several months, depending on public response.

 

Houses Passes New Disaster Aid Package

 
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a supplemental spending package, H.R. 2266, to aid with ongoing hurricane and wildfire relief efforts, in a 353-69 vote. The $36.5 billion emergency funding measure includes $16 billion in flood insurance debt cancellation, and $18.67 billion
appropriated for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund. The measure was brought as an amendment to House and Senate legislation on bankruptcy judgeships, to allow the bill to bypass a Senate filibuster and ensure quick passage. In the Senate, the bill may not be considered until after work on the FY 2018 budget resolution is completed.

 

Conservative members have cited concern over the cancellation of debt with no "reforms" in the National Flood Insurance Program, as the bill does not include offsets. Additionally, they have criticized the appropriation of up to $4.9 billion from FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund to FEMA's Community Disaster Loans Program. However, given the bill's broadly bipartisan passage in the House, it is anticipated to have relatively smooth passage in the Senate.

 

Senate Resumes FY 2018 Appropriations Work

 
The Senate continues work on appropriations this week. The chamber will mark up the ninth and 10th – of 12 total – FY 2018 spending bills. On October 17, 2017, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittees will mark up the draft Interior-Environment and Homeland Security appropriations bills, respectively. The House has passed all 12 FY 2018 bills, and a budget resolution. Senate work has proceeded at a slower pace, as the Senate also works through nominations, healthcare and tax reform.


DOJ Issues Final Sanctuary City Warning

 
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a final warning on October 12, 2017, to cities identified as "sanctuary jurisdictions" to comply with U.S. Code 1373, which enforces federal immigration policies. The jurisdictions DOJ identified as violating 1373 were: Cook County, Ill.; Chicago, New Orleans, New York City and Philadelphia. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that jurisdictions that adopt "sanctuary policies" adopt views that the protection of "criminal aliens" is of greater importance than protection of citizens and the rule of law. Sessions also added that he urges jurisdictions found to be out of compliance to reconsider policies. The law states that local governments may not prohibit or restrict the flow of information regarding citizenship or immigration status of individuals to federal immigration authorities. Several of the cities named, including New York, have stated that they do not intend to alter their policies, and will continue to protect "vulnerable immigrant communities." New Orleans, however, has stated that it is complying with the government's immigration policy. The DOJ has given the jurisdictions until October 27, 2017, to prove they are complying with federal law.

 

EPA Moves to Roll Back Clean Power Plan

 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on October 10, 2017, that it would roll back the Clean Power Plan, an Obama Administration rule that sought to limit emissions from existing power plants. The rule aimed to cut carbon emissions from plants by 2030, in order to reduce emissions by a third of 2005 levels. After the Obama Administration issued the rule, several states' attorneys general sued the administration; and in 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court put the rule on hold. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has previously discussed his intent to eliminate the rule, formally signing a measure to repeal it on October 10, 2017. The Trump Administration has argued that the Clean Power Plan represents an overreach of federal authority, as it encourages states to meet emissions targets by a variety of means through an executive order (EO), rather than through traditional legislation. Pruitt argued that the rule is inconsistent with the Clean Air Act, and that repealing the Clean Power Plan would save up to $33 billion in compliance costs. He also stated that the plan failed to follow "well-established economic procedures" in estimating global climate benefits. Environmental groups have criticized the EPA's move, with several considering legal recourse to fight the administration's decision.

 

The Week Ahead
The House is in recess on October 16, 2017, and will return for business on October 23, 2017.

 

Senate Hearings

 

Cost of Prescription Drugs (Part II)
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Full Committee Hearing
Oct. 17, 10 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.


Pending Nominations
Senate Judiciary Committee
Full Committee Hearing
Oct. 17, 10 a.m., 226 Dirksen Bldg.

 

Consumer Data Security/Credit Bureaus

Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee
Full Committee Hearing
Oct. 17, 10 a.m., 538 Dirksen Bldg.

Sharpley Nomination
Senate Select Intelligence Committee
Full Committee Hearing
Oct. 17, 2:30 p.m., 216 Hart Bldg.

 

Justice Department Oversight
Senate Judiciary Committee
Full Committee Hearing
Oct. 18, 10 a.m., 226 Dirksen Bldg.

 

Pending Nominations
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
Full Committee Hearing
Oct. 18, 10 a.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg.

 

Pending Nominations
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Full Committee Markup
Oct. 18, 10 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.

 

Pending Nominations
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Full Committee Hearing
Oct. 18, 2:30 p.m., 419 Dirksen Bldg.

 

Threats Facing Naval Forces
Senate Armed Services - Subcommittee on Seapower
Subcommittee Briefing
Oct. 25, 9:30 a.m., SVC-217, U.S. Capitol

 

Russian Election Interference
Senate Select Intelligence Committee
Full Committee Hearing
Oct. 25, 10 a.m., 219 Hart Bldg.

 

Pending Legislation

Senate Indian Affairs Committee
Full Committee Hearing
Oct. 25, 2:30 p.m., 628 Dirksen Bldg.

 


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