Legislative Update for Week Ending December 2, 2016

Legislative Update for Week Ending December 2, 2016

This week, lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill to resume the lame-duck session. President-elect Donald Trump announced the nomination of Congressman Tom Price (GA-6) for Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, and lawmakers continued working on a spending package to fund the federal government past December 9th.

President-Elect Trump Selects HHS Nominee

This week, President-elect Donald Trump announced his nominee for Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): Congressman Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon from Georgia. Currently, Congressman Price is a member of the influential Ways and Means Committee, and he also serves as Chairman of the House Budget Committee. He will likely remain in that position until early next year, when he is expected to lead efforts to adopt a budget resolution that repeals the Affordable Care Act.

Congressman Price’s nomination is expected to win approval by the Senate in the 115th Congress with at least a simple majority of 51 votes. If confirmed, he will lead HHS as it navigates an overhaul of the health care system, the potential privatization of the Medicare program, and several likely changes to the Social Security program.

In a statement about Congressman Price’s nomination, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (TX-8) said: “Tom’s leadership will ensure that the Department of Health and Human Services delivers real results for the American people, whether it’s improving the way we access health care or reforming key programs designed to assist the most vulnerable.” Congressman John Kline (MN-2) – Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee – also praised the work of Congressman Price, saying: “He will play an invaluable role in delivering patient-centered health care, strengthening our social safety net, and helping more families achieve a lifetime of success.”

However, Democrats in the House and Senate voiced serious concerns about the nomination of Congressman Price this week. Senator Charles Schumer (NY), who is set to become the Senate Minority Leader in January, said: “There ought to be bipartisan support against a secretary who’s going to privatize Medicare and not fund Planned Parenthood … Nominating Congressman Price to be the HHS secretary is akin to asking the fox to guard the hen house.” He and many others in the Senate have vowed to put Congressman Price through a tough vetting process.

In the months ahead, TSCL will monitor the confirmation of Congressman Price closely, since he will likely play a large role in efforts to reform the Social Security and Medicare programs next year. In addition, our legislative team will continue to advocate for policies that would strengthen and modernize the programs responsibly, without cutting benefit or increasing costs for current or future beneficiaries. For progress updates, visit the Legislative News section of our website, or follow TSCL on Facebook or Twitter.

Work Continues on Spending Bill

This week, lawmakers continued working on a spending package that will fund the federal government past December 9th. They are expected to pass a continuing resolution (CR) that will provide short-term funding through at least March 31, 2017, buying time for the new Congress to assemble a larger package that includes a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (KY-5) has said the temporary CR will likely be unveiled early next week, and Congress is expected to work up to the December 9th deadline on its passage. Should they fail to reach an agreement by then, the government will shut down like it did back in 2013, and Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries could see negative impacts. TSCL will monitor the movement of the funding bill in the coming days, and we will post updates on Facebook and Twitter.