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Advocacy at a Glance

December 16, 2019

Topline: Congress has a budget agreement, in principle, with some details to be resolved in the next few days. If that holds, Congress will attempt to have all 12 appropriations bills to the President before the current CR runs out on December 20 (next week).

Agreement in Principle on All 12 Appropriations Bills. House Slated to Vote Tuesday. After months of negotiations, Congressional appropriators and leadership, in consultation with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, reached an agreement on funding the entire federal government (“all 12 bills”). The intent is to pass them quickly, in time to avoid another Continuing Resolution (CR) when the current CR runs out on December 20. This also means no shutdown threat, which had been unlikely for December 20, but could not be ruled out. It is widely assumed the President will sign the final bills based on House and Senate Republican leadership support and Secretary Mnuchin’s participation. However, that is still an assumption and is not backed by any explicit message from the White House.

Key Details Missing About Moving the Appropriations Bills Quickly. No texts have been released nor charts with final numbers. We would not expect to see those until Sunday or Monday as staff are expected to be drafting much of the weekend. Further, we do not yet know how the 12 bills will be packaged, although there has been some speculation. On the one hand, the President complained the last time Congress sent him just one omnibus bill. On the other hand, neither body will want to endure 12 separate votes, which also might embolden the President to sign some and veto others.

Also unclear is how the extremely short time frame may be affected by House and Senate rules that require bills be available for a minimum time before they are voted upon. If the House were to meet its three-day rule, the bills would need to be posted by Saturday night to allow a vote on Tuesday. On the Senate side, Majority Leader McConnell has stated that it will take significant cooperation to finish next week. One known threat is that Senator Manchin has said he will not let any legislation pass the Senate until he has an agreement on miner’s pension benefits, which need to be shored up. In short, time agreements will be needed to move appropriations bills and it is not yet clear how difficult that will be.

Down to the Wire: Can “Agreement in Principle on Funding” Become “Appropriated Before the Holidays?” Politico reports that, subject to change, the schedule for the House’s last week before holiday recess is impossibly tight, given what they want to accomplish:

  • Monday: No votes expected in the House.
  • Tuesday: Spending legislation, which would give the Senate time to do its thing.
  • Wednesday: Articles of impeachment, as well as a resolution on impeachment managers.
  • Thursday: Trump’s trade deal with Mexico and Canada.
  • Friday: ???

How FDA Is Impacted By the Deal to Move FY 20 Funding Bills. This week’s Analysis and Commentary looks at the FDA’s situation now that the FY 20 macro-budgetary issues appear to have been resolved. Passage of all 12 funding bills is good for the FDA, but some uncertainties remain.

FDA Commissioner-Designate Hahn Confirmed By Senate; Swearing-In Expected Soon. In a 72-18 vote the Senate voted to appoint Dr. Stephen Hahn, chied medical executive at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, to be the next Commissioner of FDA. As noted by several trade publications, he is expected to have a number of volatile issues on his plate starting from day 1.  In the face of this, he has stressed his commitment to use science as his guide. It is expected that Dr. Hahn will be sworn in within the next 2 weeks and can then get started. We believe he will be a champion for FDA resources — funding, personnel and technology.

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