Legislative Update for Week Ending January 5, 2018

Legislative Update for Week Ending January 5, 2018

This week, lawmakers in the House remained in their home districts, while those in the Senate returned to Capitol Hill to begin working on a plan to avoid a government shutdown. In addition, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) saw three key bills gain support.

Senate Returns to Washington

On Tuesday, Senate lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill to begin the second session of the 115th Congress. Those in the House remained in their home districts for the week and are expected to return to Washington on Monday, January 8th.

In the meantime, leaders in Congress are working on a plan to fund the federal government past January 19th. In a joint statement released on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (WI-1) said: “It is important that we achieve a two-year agreement that funds our troops and provides for our national security and other critical functions of the federal government.”

However, it remains uncertain whether lawmakers will be capable of negotiating the details of a long-term spending plan in just two weeks. Should they fail to do so, they will either need to pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government operating or allow the federal government to shut down.

TSCL is monitoring the negotiations closely since a shutdown could negatively impact the timely delivery of Social Security checks and Medicare reimbursements. In the days and weeks ahead, we will advocate for proposals that would keep the federal government – including the Social Security Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – fully and responsibly funded. For progress updates, visit the Legislative News section of our website or follow TSCL on Facebook or Twitter.

Three Key Bills Gain Support

This week, the Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act (H.R. 2575) gained three new cosponsors in Representatives Anna Eshoo (CA-18), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), and Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), bringing the total up to thirteen. If signed into law, H.R. 2575 would simplify the Medicare enrollment process and increase efforts to educate those nearing eligibility about the program and the application process.

In addition, the Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 1205) gained one new cosponsor in Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), bringing the cosponsor total up to 169. If signed into law, H.R. 1205 would repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) – two Social Security provisions that unfairly reduce the earned benefits of millions of public servants each year.

Finally, the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act (H.R. 242) gained one new cosponsor in Representative Jim Langevin (RI-2), bringing the total up to thirty-two. If signed into law, H.R. 242 would reduce costs for older Americans by requiring the federal government to negotiate lower Part D prescription drug prices on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries.

TSCL enthusiastically supports H.R. 2575, H.R. 1205, and H.R. 242, and we were pleased to see support grow for each one this week. For more information about these and other bills, visit the Bill Tracking section of our website.