Emily Ethridge

McConnell: DHS Spending Bill Up Next in Senate

The Senate will turn to a potentially bruising battle over immigration, once it dispatches with its debate over the Keystone XL pipeline.

Dahntay Jones' Proud Father-in-Law, G.K. Butterfield

Those interested in keeping up with the latest pro-basketball deals could do worse than observe the House floor.  

"My son-in-law just signed with the Clippers!" Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., said while exiting the chamber on Wednesday afternoon. Butterfield's daughter Valeisha is married to Dahntay Jones, who signed a 10-day contract with the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.  For Butterfield, it's likely more than just a family thing. Jones was a standout at Duke University, the basketball powerhouse in Durham, one of the key cities in Butterfield's northeastern North Carolina district. Jones, 34, came into the league with the Memphis Grizzlies and has also played for the Sacramento Kings, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks.  

Ebola Drives Interest in More Biomedical Research

Lawmakers are using the Ebola outbreak to call for a broader investment in biomedical research and public health funding to avoid scrambling to respond to a specific disease.

Omnibus Expected to Include Funding to Fight Ebola

Appropriators are expected to include significant extra funding in an omnibus spending package to help agencies continue responding to the Ebola outbreak, but the final number will be less than President Barack Obama requested.

Price Pushes Plan to Separate Immigration Funding From Omnibus

House GOP leaders are likely to float a proposal in their conference next week to fund most government agencies through September 2015, while providing a shorter-term stopgap component for immigration-related programs and initiatives.

Obama Calls for Calm, Healing in Ferguson (Video)

President Barack Obama called for calm in Ferguson, Mo., on Thursday, and said the FBI and Department of Justice are both launching independent investigations into the police shooting of an unarmed teenager.  

Speaking from a press conference near Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, Obama said DOJ officials are also talking with local authorities about how they can maintain public safety without obstructing peaceful protests. Conflicts and clashes between police and protesters have escalated in the days following the death of Michael Brown.  

As Ferguson Police-Protester Clashes Escalate, Congress Wades In (Video)

Updated 12:53 p.m. | Lawmakers are beginning to speak out in reaction to the protests and police response in Ferguson, Mo., following the killing of an unarmed African-American teenager by police on Aug 9.  

Many members of Congress are defending the public’s right to protest while calling for peace — and are using social media to voice their support. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., wrote on Facebook, “This is America, not a war zone. The people of Ferguson, Missouri just want answers. We all want answers.”  

House GOP Leadership Shuffle: The Contenders

The implosion of Eric Cantor’s majority leader operation left a sudden gap atop the House GOP that a new crop of Republicans are eyeing hungrily. By scheduling a snap election, the current leadership appeared to cement current Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy of California as the front-runner to replace Cantor in leadership elections scheduled for June 19.

Alone, Illegal and Underage: The Child Migrant Crisis

On America’s southern border, officials have watched for the past few years as a trickle of children crossing the Rio Grande illegally without their parents has turned into a veritable flood. So many kids, in fact, that the issue has triggered a crisis, as Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson had to issue an emergency alert this month establishing a shelter at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas to house the thousands of youths entering each week.

Could This Be the Year for a House Reversal on Medical Marijuana?

The last time Rep. Dana Rohrabacher offered an amendment on the House floor to protect states rights when it came to legalization of medical marijuana, it was defeated 163–262.

Enhanced FDA Tracking System to Monitor for Counterfeits, Contamination

One of the Food and Drug Administration’s newest tools in trying to protect consumers from counterfeit or contaminated drugs is a system to enhance tracking of products throughout the distribution chain.

As Food and Drug Imports Increase, FDA Focuses on Becoming Global Health Organization

The Food and Drug Administration is tasked with overseeing the safety and quality of most of the food, medical devices, drugs, biological products, vaccines and cosmetics in the United States. But every year, more and more of those products come into the country from other nations.

Can Congress Solve Medicare's 'Doc Fix' Problems?

With all the enthusiasm and energy to get rid of the flawed system that Medicare uses to pay physicians, why isn’t it gone yet?

A huge obstacle is the price tag. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that simply repealing the current payment formula for 10 years would cost $116.5 billion over that time. A House Energy and Commerce Committee bill to replace it would cost $153.2 billion over 10 years.

Payment Cuts Might Not Lead Doctors to Avoid Medicare Patients

Provider groups have often raised the specter of physicians shutting their door to Medicare patients as a possible consequence of the perpetually looming Medicare physician payment cuts. But administration officials and the independent Medicare Payment Advisory Committee say the problem is not as dire as some suggest.

In an August 2013 report, the Health and Human Services assistant secretary for planning and evaluation found that the percentage of physicians accepting new Medicare patients has stayed stable over the past seven years. In 2012, 90.7 percent of all office-based physicians accepted new Medicare patients, the report said — only a small change from the 88 percent that accepted them in 2005.

Lawmakers Attempt to Keep Up With Synthetic Drugs

In 2012, lawmakers hailed legislation that outlawed the sale of 26 designer drugs — substances meant to mimic the properties of illegal drugs such as marijuana or cocaine. The synthetics have been linked to incidences of violence, overdoses and suicides.

Law enforcement agencies and lawmakers said the measure (PL 112-144) was an important step in fighting the substances. Yet, a year after the law’s passage, there are more than 250 types of synthetic drugs still sold in the United States, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency, and law enforcement can’t keep up. The problem is that once a certain substance is banned or restricted, manufacturers can slightly alter the chemical structure of the illicit substance to make a new version that skirts the law.

Law Enforcement Struggles to Prosecute on Synthetics

The prosecution of manufacturers and distributors of synthetic drugs presents different challenges from going after typical drug dealers, law enforcement officials say.

Currently, law enforcement is in a situation similar to what it faced with drugs in the 1970s and 1980s. Then, dealers in illicit drugs such as cocaine could evade prosecution in much the same way that synthetic drug dealers are now — by slightly changing an illegal drug’s molecular structure and creating an analog.

Eric Cantor All Revved Up After NASCAR Pitstop

With the government days away from shutting down, and Republicans still searching for votes on a measure to raise the debt ceiling, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor took some time Thursday to focus on what’s really important: the children.

Of course, the children in question just happened to be accompanied by NASCAR superstar Denny Hamlin and supermodel Niki Taylor.

A Primer on Compounding Pharmacies and Regulation by Congress

Senators hope that they will soon get a chance to quickly pass legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration more authority over compounding pharmacies. For months, lawmakers in both chambers have been working on the best way to respond to last year’s fatal fungal meningitis outbreak linked to a contaminated compounded drug.

Although the House has yet to produce a full bill, sponsors are hoping that negotiations will smooth the path to compromise — and that continued problems with the drugs will bring urgency to the cause.

Importance of Compounding Pharmacies Not Disputed by Congress

Although lawmakers are working to increase oversight of some compounding pharmacies, they agree that the practice of traditional compounding serves an important purpose and should be protected.

Traditional compounding harks back to pharmacists’ mortar-and-pestle days. Then, as now, pharmacists would make a custom version of a drug for an individual patient with a specific need.

Senators Push FDA for Stronger Sunscreen Standards

Beachgoers reaching for the sunscreen this summer may notice some new labels on the bottles, including warnings that the product may not protect against skin cancer.

This is the first summer that the Food and Drug Administration’s rules for over-the-counter sunscreen labeling are in full effect. Labels will now feature information about whether the products protect against both UVA and UVB rays; whether they help prevent sunburn, skin cancer and premature aging; and if and for how long they are water-resistant.