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On the Hill: Reconciliation Veto, State of the Union, FDA Nominee

As expected last week, President Obama vetoed a GOP-authored budget reconciliation bill that would have repealed much of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and cut off federal funds to Planned Parenthood. While largely symbolic, Congress’ passage of the bill nonetheless signaled the ability of Republicans to repeal the ACA if they win the White House this fall and maintain their congressional majority.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) committed to drafting a health care reform replacement bill and solicited ideas from House Republicans. He plans to develop a timeline for the legislation, which likely will not go to a vote this year.

This week, the Senate returned to session after its holiday recess and Obama delivered his last State of the Union address. In his address Tuesday, the president said about 18 million people have gained health care coverage since the ACA became law, and that health care inflation has slowed. He also emphasized the need to maintain strong Medicare and Social Security programs.

In committee business, on Tuesday the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee cleared the nomination of Robert Califf to head the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is unclear when the full Senate will vote on his nomination.

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About the Author

Walsh is the senior manager of legislative affairs for America's Essential Hospitals.