Debbie Stabenow

Congress is Trump’s best hope for drug pricing action
But divisions remain between Republicans and Democrats, House and Senate

The administration will need congressional help to take action this year on drug prices. (File photo)

An upcoming Senate bill is the Trump administration’s best hope for a significant achievement before next year’s election to lower prescription drug prices, but a lot still needs to go right for anything to become law.

Despite the overwhelming desire for action, there are still policy gulfs between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, and another gap between the Senate and the House. And the politics of the moment might derail potential policy agreements. Some Democrats might balk at settling for a drug pricing compromise that President Donald Trump endorsed.

High-stakes lawsuit makes health care law a 2020 issue
Court hearing comes as Democrats have been debating their next steps beyond the 2010 law

Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, said if elected, he would want to first focus on ways to stabilize the health coverage law. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For all their differences on “Medicare for All,” Democrats will have a chance to rally around the 2010 health care law this week.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit will hear oral arguments in the high-profile Texas v. Azar lawsuit on Tuesday, which could spell the future of the health care law and become a major issue in the 2020 election cycle.

How many ways is Michigan in play in 2020?
Gary Peters’ re-election bid, presidential race make it a battleground

In Michigan, Democratic Sen. Gary Peters is up for re-election in 2020. That race, along with the presidential contest, makes the state a major political battleground. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Michigan is surprisingly relevant in 2020.

The Democratic presidential nominee almost certainly has to carry the state next year to have any chance of denying President Donald Trump a second term. And Republicans are eyeing the seat of first-term Democratic Sen. Gary Peters.

Republican John James will run again, this time against Sen. Gary Peters
The Michigan businessman’s run could shape the presidential race in a key swing state.

Republican businessman John James will challenge Michigan Democratic Sen. Gary Peters in 2020. (Courtesy Facebook)

Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, one of the two most vulnerable Democrats in the Senate, picked up a Republican challenger on Thursday that national Republicans hope will put the Wolverine State in play in 2020. 

Army veteran John James, the 2018 Senate nominee, announced Thursday that he’s challenging Peters, one of just two Democratic senators up for reelection in a state that President Donald Trump carried in 2016.

Futures product to test Wall Street taste for cryptocurrencies
Startup company plans to start trading futures contracts in bitcoin

Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., have sought clarity from the Commodity Future Trading Commission on guidelines for cryptocurrencies on the futures market. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Cryptocurrencies have been viewed skeptically by some old-guard financial institutions — the head of one bank famously called bitcoin a fraud a few years back — but there’s a new plan to offer derivatives based on bitcoin that may show how deeply Wall Street is adopting new financial technology.

A startup company plans in July to start testing futures contracts in bitcoin, and begin trading them shortly after. The products, unlike cryptocurrencies themselves, aren’t designed for the masses. Bitcoin futures are meant for financial firms that want to find new ways to profit from fintech, and launching the futures contracts is essentially a bet that there’s enough demand from the big players.

Photos of the Week: Protests, celebrities and even some cute ducklings
The week of May 13 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

A protester with the group By The People is arrested by U.S. Capitol Police in the Cannon House Office Building rotunda on Tuesday. About 20 protesters gathered to occupy the rotunda to call for the House to initiate Impeachment hearings. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Trump‘s latest immigration plan came with no Democratic outreach
Proposal appears going no further than White House Rose Garden

A life-size cage installation by artist Paola Mendoza is set up on the Capitol lawn on May 7 to coincide with the anniversary of the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ family separation immigration policy. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump unveiled his latest immigration overhaul plan Thursday, but given its lack of outreach to Democrats, it likely will go little further than the Rose Garden setting where it first saw light. 

Trump used the White House backdrop to also reiterate some of his familiar hard-line immigration stances that may ingratiate him to his conservative base, but usually only repel Democrats and many independents.

Mental health clinics wait on Congress
If federal lawmakers don’t renew a promising program before the end of June, it will be up to the states to find the money

Sen. Debbie Stabenow is leading the charge in the Senate to renew a promising mental health program. The clock is ticking. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The promise of higher federal Medicaid payments is giving eight states the chance to show that one-stop mental health clinics with 24-hour crisis care could offer patients a better option than the de facto safety net of police departments and emergency rooms.

But the two-year experiment is drawing to a close now, leaving the program with an uncertain future if Congress doesn’t extend it.

Klobuchar plan to combat addiction draws on experience with her dad
Policy proposal comes as part of her 2020 presidential campaign platform

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., unveiled a mental health policy proposal on Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s mental health plan, unveiled Friday morning, draws on proposals from several of her Senate colleagues — and it’s also a highly personal quest for the senator.

One of the early major proposals of the Minnesota Democrat’s 2020 White House campaign, it calls for aggressive investments to support mental health and treatment for addiction, including an increased focus on early intervention. It also draws on her experience with her father’s alcoholism.

Bill making sure university presidents know about alleged sexual abuse introduced
The effort led by members from Michigan following scandal at Michigan State

Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., is among the lead sponsors of the new legislation, known as the ALERT Act, which effectively mandates that university presidents cannot claim ignorance in Title IX cases. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There’s a new push for legislation to effectively mandate that university presidents cannot claim ignorance when allegations of sexual assault are made against their employees.

A bill being introduced in both the House and the Senate would require colleges and universities annually certify that top officials, including at least one trustee, have reviewed all of the sexual assault allegations if they want to keep getting federal funding.