House committees last week completed legislative markups of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package under reconciliation rules.
Congress earlier this month passed a budget resolution for fiscal year (FY) 2021 to begin the reconciliation process; the reconciliation process allows President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief proposal to move forward without Republican support.
Nine House committees last week marked up their sections of the relief package. The House Committee on Ways and Means passed its provisions on a party-line vote of 24–18; the package includes several provisions enhancing health insurance access and affordability and expanding employer tax credits related to the pandemic. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce also completed its markup along party lines. This committee’s package includes additional funding for COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and treatment; Medicaid coverage and enhanced reimbursement for COVID-19 vaccines; Medicaid coverage for pregnant individuals 12 months postpartum; and a financial incentive for states to expand Medicaid coverage if they have not already done so, among other provisions.
The House Committee on the Budget will compile the individual sections into a larger reconciliation bill. The House is expected to hold a floor vote on the reconciliation bill the week of Feb. 22 before the legislation moves to the Senate for consideration.
Trump Acquitted on Impeachment Charges
The Senate on a 57–43 vote acquitted former President Donald Trump of charges that he incited the violent Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The House in January sent the Senate articles of impeachment against Trump; he previously was impeached by the House in 2019. Trump is the only president to be impeached twice; the Senate trial on the first impeachment also resulted in an acquittal.
In this second Senate trial, seven Republicans voted to impeach Trump: Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Pat Toomey (R-PA). Despite those votes aligning with Democrats, lawmakers were unable to reach the 67-vote threshold required for conviction.
House Circulating Dear Colleague Letter on 340B
In a bipartisan letter, House members are calling on presumptive Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to protect the 340B Drug Pricing Program.
The letter — led by Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), David McKinley (R-WV), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Cynthia Axne (D-IA), and John Katko (R-NY) — urges Becerra to take action against pharmaceutical manufacturers that continue to withhold 340B discounts from contract pharmacies, including requiring manufacturers to refund covered entities for unlawful overcharges. The letter also asks Becerra to stop attempts from third-party vendors, like Kalderos, to unilaterally change 340B to a rebate model. America’s Essential Hospitals supports this bipartisan effort.