Legislative activity on health care-related measures is relatively slow this week. Instead, the Senate will consider several judicial nominations, the Keystone pipeline, and child-care subsidy legislation. The House will take on measures regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulating procedures. Both the House and Senate also hope to reach an agreement on a 2015 defense authorization measure. In the House, freshman orientation is also under way for newly elected members. Incoming freshmen will hear from guest speakers and enter into a lottery to select office spaces for the 114th Congress beginning in January.
Moving forward, an omnibus appropriations package is expected the week of Dec. 8 – House and Senate leaders are determined to reach an agreement on a comprehensive spending package to continue federal funding after the current funding extension expires after Dec. 11. Also under consideration before the end of the year is a potential immigration plan from House and Senate Republicans. A proposed immigration measure could include border security and changes to the current visa policy for high-skilled workers. The measure could be a reaction to speculation that President Obama will address immigration policy through an executive order, bypassing congressional input.
In Committee business, Ebola response hearings continue. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hear an update on the U.S. public health response to Ebola. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, will testify along with Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Nicole Lurie, MD, MSPH. Frieden and Lurie will also testify before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security regarding preparedness for public health threats. The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will take a look at medical product development in the wake of Ebola. Witnesses include Robin Robinson, PhD, director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations holds a hearing reviewing work on the ground in West Africa to fight Ebola.