Frank Pallone Jr

House vote combining drug, health law bills irks Republicans
Combining the two bills sets up a political minefield for Republicans who are torn between the two issues

Reps. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., center, Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, right, and Mark Meadows, R-N.C., are seen during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in Rayburn Building. The House is set to vote Thursday on legislation meant to lower prescription drug prices and strengthen “Obamacare” health insurance exchanges. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House is set to vote Thursday on legislation meant to lower prescription drug prices and strengthen the individual health insurance exchanges, setting up a political minefield for Republicans who are torn between the two issues.

Democratic leaders’ decision to combine legislation that would make it easier to bring generic drugs to market with bills that would bolster the 2010 health care law does not damage the prospects of passage for the package of bills. But that does make it certain that most Republicans will vote against the bipartisan drug pricing legislation.

House health care bill puts generic drug industry in bind
Low-cost generic drug makers expected a floor vote on a signature bill, but the law is being packaged with two measures industry opposes

Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., attends a House Energy and Commerce Environment Subcommittee hearing in Rayburn Building. Carter is a sponsor of a bill that would make it harder to stretch out a six-month exclusivity period awarded to the first generic version of a brand-name drug. Generic drug pricing bills will be taken up by the House Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

This was supposed to be a good week for the makers of low-cost generic drugs, as a bill that is one of their top priorities gets a House floor vote. Instead, the industry finds itself clouded by allegations of price fixing, and its signature bill is being packaged with two measures they oppose.

The bill that the House will take up Thursday combines three drug pricing measures with bills to strengthen the individual health insurance market.

Trump calls for end to surprise out-of-network medical bills

The leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, ranking member Greg Walden, R-Ore.,  left, and Chairman Frank Pallone, D-N.J., support the push to clamp down on surprise medical bills. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Thursday called on Congress to pass legislation intended to curb surprise medical bills, an issue with bipartisan interest on Capitol Hill but one that has stalled under intense industry lobbying.

Trump laid out core principles the White House wants in legislation, which officials hope Congress will send to the president later this year. Trump’s remarks came after lawmakers focused on the issue asked the White House to get involved to secure more support, a senior White House official said.

More Chinese fentanyl may stay out of the US under a new bipartisan bill
Another bipartisan proposal would help physicians learn more about a patient’s substance abuse history.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., arrives in the Capitol for the weekly Senate luncheons on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Calls to address the opioid crisis resumed Thursday as lawmakers released a bill that aims to curb the flow of illegal opioids into the United States and another to help physicians learn more about a patient’s substance abuse history.

The separate actions by a bipartisan group of senators and another of House members are drawing fresh attention to the overdose crisis, which is a concern for both parties even though Congress cleared an opioids law just last year. One of the bills, a Senate measure, stands a good chance of becoming law, said co-sponsor Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer.

Graves sees a positive role for GOP in new select climate committee
Louisiana Republican is optimistic some bipartisan ideas can come out of the panel

Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., right, here in May 2018 with Reps. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, and Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., is the ranking member on the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Garret Graves says he wasn’t keen on joining the select committee to address climate change formed by the new Democratic House majority in January.

But on Feb. 28, weeks after the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis had been formed and long after the Democrats had announced their roster, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy appointed the Louisiana Republican as co-chairman.

Nancy Pelosi joins House and Senate Democrats launching new push to restore net neutrality
Legislation expected to move quickly in the House

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., are pushing legislation to restore net neutrality. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House Democratic majority intends to move quickly on legislation that would revive and codify net neutrality, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Wednesday.

Joined by Democrats from both chambers including Pelosi and top party leaders, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. said the bill would be a priority for his committee. It would codify the 2015 open internet order from the Federal Communications Commission during the Obama administration, which was rolled back after President Donald Trump took office.

Party unity on congressional votes takes a dive: CQ Vote Studies
Decline more dramatic in the Senate

Of the top six Democrats who broke from their party in 2018, four are no longer in Congress, including Heidi Heitkamp, right. Senators eyeing the presidency, meanwhile, are sticking to their party like glue. Elizabeth Warren had a perfect unity score. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After Democrats and Republicans reached record highs sticking together by party on congressional votes in 2017, those numbers nose-dived in 2018 as lawmakers worked across the aisle on high-profile legislation, including a rewrite of the Dodd-Frank financial law, a package dealing with the opioid crisis, spending bills and an overhaul of the country’s criminal justice laws.

CQ’s annual vote study shows that in the House the total number of party unity votes — defined as those with each party’s majority on opposing sides — fell from 76 percent of the total votes taken in the House in 2017, a record, to 59 percent in 2018. That latter figure is the lowest since 2010, the most recent year of unified Democratic control of Congress. Election years typically have fewer votes and 2018 was no exception — the total number of votes taken in the House, 498, was the lowest since 2002.

The lobbyists: Roll Call’s people to watch in 2019
Are they worried the new Congress will make war on K Street? Do they look worried?

Michael Williams, a longtime banking and finance policy lobbyist, aims to bridge the divide between progressives and his clients. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump looms large on almost every important issue, but it won’t be all about him for some individuals on Roll Call’s list of People to Watch in 2019. 

The financial sector will be learning to survive a less business-friendly environment in the House, and a longtime Democratic lobbyist is well-positioned to lend a hand.

Grijalva’s moment arrives as he takes Natural Resources gavel
New chairman brings progressive focus to often contentious committee

The new House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., has served on the panel since he first came to Congress in 2003. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As climate change and immigration lead priorities for the new House Democratic majority, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva may just be the man for the moment.

The question however is: Did Grijalva find this moment or did the moment finally find him?

FEMA Relents on Flood Insurance
Sales of new policies will be allowed during partial shutdown

Sen. Bill Cassidy was among several Republican lawmakers who urged FEMA to reverse its decision not to allow the sale of  flood insurance policies during the partial shutdown. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency reversed course late Friday and said it would allow sales of new flood insurance policies during the partial government shutdown.

“As of this evening, all [National Flood Insurance Program] insurers have been directed to resume normal operations immediately and advised that the program will be considered operational since December 21, 2018 without interruption,” FEMA said in a press release.