Last week, the House of Representatives passed the “National Flood Insurance Program Further Extension Act” (H.R. 7187); and the “Federal CIO Authorization Act of 2018” (H.R. 6901). The Senate voted to pass legislation “to remove the prohibition on certain alcohol manufacturing on Indian lands” (H.R. 5317); and the “75th Anniversary of World War II Commemoration Act” (S. 3661). The Senate also voted to confirm Stephen Alexander Vaden to be General Counsel of the Department of Agriculture.

This week, the House may consider the “Retirement, Savings, and Other Tax Relief Act of 2018” (H.R. 88). The House floor schedule also notes that the chamber could vote on the conference report to accompany the “Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018” (H.R. 2). This legislation would “provide for the reform and continuation of agricultural and other programs of the Department of Agriculture through fiscal year 2023…”

On Monday, the Senate voted on the motion to invoke cloture and limit debate on the nomination of Bernard McNamee to be a Member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The Senate is also slated to consider the nomination of Mitchell Zais to be Deputy Secretary of Education.

The current continuing resolution that temporarily funds portions of the federal government expires on December 7. This means that Congress must either enact full-year funding legislation or another continuing resolution in order to avoid a government shutdown.

Department of Transportation Adjusts Civil Penalties

On November 27, the U.S. Department of Transportation published a final rule implementing its annual civil penalty inflation adjustments, including for violations of consumer protection and aviation safety regulations issued by the Office of the Secretary and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Federal agencies are directed to make these adjustments annually under the “Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015”, which was enacted as Section 701 of the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015” (P.L. 114-74). The Act provides for “annual adjustments for inflation…” for civil penalties.

FAA Announces Appointment of Executive Directors Overseeing Certification and UAS Integration

In a press release issued on November 29, the FAA “announced Earl Lawrence’s promotion to the Agency’s Executive Director for Aircraft Certification.” Lawrence had served as the Executive Director of the agency’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Office. The FAA also announced that “Jay Merkle, Deputy Vice President for the FAA Air Traffic Organization’s Program Management Office, will become the new head of UAS Integration.”

Member Reminder

AAMS fully supports the “Ensuring Access to Air Ambulance Services Act” (H.R. 3378 and S. 2121), bipartisan legislation that would address the shortfall in Medicare reimbursements for air medical services. AAMS encourages members to contact their Senators and Members of Congress to ask them to cosponsor the legislation.

The bills would reform the Medicare fee schedule for air ambulance services, starting with a cost reporting and analysis program conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), followed by: rebasing of air medical reimbursements; and implementation of a Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program. The bill would enhance transparency by establishing cost and quality reporting requirements, as well as solve for a growing gap between Medicare payments and costs.

Representatives Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), and Pete Sessions (R-TX) introduced H.R. 3378. The bill currently has 46 cosponsors.

Senators Dean Heller (R-NV), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Cory Gardner (R-CO), introduced the Senate version of the bill. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tim Scott (R-SC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Todd Young (R-IN), and Doug Jones (D-AL) are also cosponsors.

Additional information on this legislation, as well as on how to contact your Member of Congress and Senators: