This Week in Washington
Overview – Last week the House and Senate approved appropriations legislation for the balance of the current fiscal year (H.R. 244). This week the House is on recess, while the Senate is expected to vote on nominations.
AHCA Passage – On May 4, the House passed the “American Health Care Act (AHCA)” (H.R. 1628) by a 217-213 vote. Twenty Republicans voted against the bill and no Democrats voted for it. The bill is likely to face changes in the Senate with several Republicans saying the Senate will draft its own version.
Republicans were finally able to reach consensus on the AHCA after an additional amendment was added this week by Representatives Fred Upton (R-MI) and Billy Long (R-MO).
The amendment provided an additional $8 billion to be spread over five years and are intended to help those with pre-existing conditions pay for their premiums. The amendment was able to garner more support for the bill from moderate Republicans.
The legislation now goes to the Senate. Republicans need 51 votes to pass the bill through the reconciliation process. However, several Republican Senators have already raised concerns with the current draft of the bill. Following House passage, Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) reiterated concerns that the bill does not adequately protect the Medicaid expansion population.
Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) stressed the Senate will not be setting any deadlines and will instead go “through the issues methodically.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has formed a working group that includes leadership, moderates, conservatives, and chairmen of the key committees to work out a consensus.
Senate –The Senate’s agenda for the week of May 8th includes votes on Trump Administration nominees: former Representative Heather Wilson to be Secretary of the Air Force; Scott Gottlieb to be Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration; and Robert Lighthizer to be U.S. Trade Representative.
Committees – On May 2, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing on “Oversight of U.S. Airline Customer Service”. As described in a Committee press release, intended to “examine U.S. airlines customer service policies and issues, and what can be done to improve the flying experience for American travelers.”
Agencies – The FAA published the notice of the May 11th meeting of the Ninety Eighth RTCA SC–159 Navigation Equipment Using the Global Positioning System Plenary.
The FAA’s Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) held a meeting on May 3.