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June 28, 2022

Federal Legislative Update

Last Updated: June 28, 2022

OVERVIEW

While June 24 marked a historic day with the Supreme Court ruling that the nearly 50-year old Roe v. Wade decision was unconstitutional, other events are shaping Washington, D.C. this summer. The November 8 elections are a big factor as the pundits predict the House to flip to Republican control and possibly the senate as well. And while all agree the recent Supreme Court decisions on the second amendment as well as abortion will impact the elections, no one is sure how as both sides are mobilizing for a big turnout. Meanwhile, the House passed the ARPA-H authorization bill and both chambers passed the most significant gun safety legislation in a generation that is bipartisan and a response to the Robb Elementary School shooting and several other mass shootings. President Biden signed this Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law on June 25. In addition, gas prices and inflation continue to be top concerns and President Biden responded by asking Congress to authorize a gas tax holiday this summer, which was immediately rejected by many Republicans. Finally, the House and Senate National Defense Authorization Act and all the House appropriations bills moved through the markup process with floor activity planned for July. The Senate is expected to start subcommittee markups before the August recess. See details in our report.

Federal Legislative Update

The 12 House Appropriations Subcommittees are all passing bills and the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have marked up their versions of the National Defense Authorization Act. Below is information on the status of these bills plus updates on Health, Education, and Economic Development legislative activities.

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BUDGET & APPROPRIATIONS

Appropriations
The 12 House Appropriations Subcommittees have all introduced and considered their appropriations bills with the full committee set to complete all markups of the 12 bills by July 1. Despite having no top line numbers, House and Senate Appropriations Chairs Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) are set to get the bills drafted and introduced in Congress. Republicans will likely block movement in the Senate without these numbers, but the House is full steam ahead.

Health

FY23 Appropriations
The House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropropriations bill for FY2023 provides $242.1 billion, an increase of $28.5 billion, which is 13% above 2022. Highlights include:

  • Department of Labor (DOL) – $15 billion, an increase of $1.9 billion above the FY22 enacted level and $125 million above the President’s budget request.
    • $11.8 billion for the Employment and Training Administration, an increase of $1.3 billion above the FY 2022 enacted level and $193.7 million above the President’s budget request.
  • Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – $124.2 billion, an increase of $15.6 billion above the FY22 enacted level and $298 million below Presiden Biden’s budget request.
    • NIH – $47.5 billion, an increase of $2.5 billion above the FY22 enacted level.
    • NCI – $7.4 billion, an increase of $466 million above the FY22 enacted level, including $216 million for the Cancer Moonshot.
    • Alzheimer's/dementia – $3.7 billion, an increase of $200 million above the FY22 enacted level
    • Opioids/stimulants/pain management research – $100 million increase
    • Health disparities research – $100 million increase
    • Mental Health – $3.8 billion, an increase of $1.7 billion above the FY22 enacted level
    • ARPA-H (Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health) – $2.75 billion, an increase of $1.75 billion, to accelerate the pace of scientific breakthroughs for diseases such as ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer
  • Department of Education (ED) – $86.7 billion in discretionary appropriations for ED, an increase of $10.3 billion above the FY22 enacted level.
  • Policy Riders – Several riders are included addressing reproductive health care, immigration, discrimination in foster care, student aide, and need exchange programs.

$10 Billion for COVID
The Biden administration recently reallocated $10 billion toward vaccine and therapeutic purchases, which is almost what it had requested from Congress several months ago. The White House officials had maintained they couldn’t do that, which ticked off several GOP senators, such as Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), who who publicly criticized this decision during the Senate HELP Committee last week.

Defense

National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)
Despite President Biden's FY23 budget for the Department of Defense totaling $733 billion, both the House and Senate authorizing committees surpassed $800 billion in their respective bills. House and Senate leaders will need to close the $8 billion gap between their two versions once they begin negotiations on a compromise bill in the coming months

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) included a $45 billion increase to Biden's proposed budget in their closed door markup mid-month. For the second straight year, the SASC's National Defense Authorization Act exceeds the president's budget request. The SASC FY23 top line budget is $847 billion, which Chair Jack Reed (D-RI) argues is needed to counteract runaway inflation, aid Ukraine, replenish weapons sent into the fight against Russia, and fund military priorities left out of the Pentagon budget request. Meanwhile the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chair Adam Smith (D-WA) led his panel through the markup process to approve a $37 billion boost to the national defense budget for a total of $840 billion.

Finally, some other highlights of the NDAA include a ban of Chinese goods from U.S. military stores, the Air Force requirement to assess F-35 ability to fend off missiles, new gender-neutral fitness standards for combat requirement, and U.S. military service graduates needing to serve before pro sports. Also, the president recently announced that the U.S. will provide The president announced that the U.S. will send more than $1 billion in weapons and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, with $225 million for assisting people inside Ukraine by supplying safe drinking water, medical supplies, health care, food, shelter and money for families to buy necessary items.

Economic Development

Inflation

The Federal Reserve hiked interest rates in the effort to cool inflation, raising recession fears. The central bank also significantly lowered its estimates for U.S. economic growth, projecting 1.7 percent in 2022 and 2023, down from 2.8 percent and 2.2 percent forecast in March. This is the worst inflation we've ever seen in 40 years. In response to rising gas prices and inflation, President Biden asked Congress to authorize a gas tax holiday this summer, which was immediately rejected by many Republicans. Republicans are leading efforts to examine where ARPA and COVID dollars were spent to reel in spending for the rest of the year.

news of the day

ARPA-H Launch
President Biden selected Dr. Adam Russell to be Deputy Director of ARPA-H and nominated Dr. Arati Prabhakar for Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The Administration is waiting to select the ARPA-H director until after Congress completes the ARPA-H authorization bill. On June 22, the House passed H.R. 5585, the ARPA-H Act by 336 to 85 with strong bipartisan support. Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chair Anna Eshoo (D-CA) teamed up with Ranking Member Brett Guthrie (R-KY) to introduce a successful floor amendment that removed Senate confirmation for the director position, precisely as the White House wanted. In the senate, similar authorization legislation is tucked inside the PREVENT Pandemics Act, which Senate HELP Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) have championed and passed out of their committee two months ago.