Congressional health committees in both the House and Senate will lead Capitol Hill health care activities this week. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will hold a hearing on employer wellness programs. The Senate Committee on Finance will mark up H.R. 22, the Hire More Heroes Act, which passed the House Jan. 6. The measure would allow employers to exempt veterans from the Affordable Care Act’s mandate for employer-sponsored health coverage. And, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health will hold a legislative hearing on several public health-related bills.
On the House and Senate floors, however, health care remains on the back burner. Instead, the House is focused on legislation to protect victims of human trafficking, especially children, as well as legislation regarding immigration and border security. The winter snow storm in the Northeast has delayed the House this week, as it canceled voting scheduled for Monday and postponed consideration of the Secure Our Borders First Act, a measure to mandate complete control over the Mexico border over the next five years.
In the Senate, a vote to end debate on the Keystone XL pipeline legislation failed Monday evening. The new Republican majority in the Senate falls short of being filibuster-proof, which makes it difficult to move forward on measures that don’t have solid bipartisan support.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its fiscal year (FY) 2016 threshold on Monday, which will outline how spending legislation will be scored for 2016. CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf will testify before both the House and Senate budget panels this week to review the proposed outlook. President Obama’s FY 2016 budget request is expected Feb. 2.