Congress returns to Washington this week to consider Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination and to focus on funding the federal government for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
The Senate recently passed a joint $875 billion spending package to fund the Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education departments for fiscal year 2019. The House Appropriations Committee passed its version of the spending package, but the bill must be approved by the full House before it can be reconciled with the Senate package.
Before they leave Washington to campaign for the Nov. 6 elections, lawmakers this month also will work to pass a legislative package to fight the opioid epidemic.
Last month, the Senate released a working draft of its legislative response to the opioid crisis. This version has yet to be introduced and likely will change before reaching the floor. It differs from legislation the House passed in June, as it does not include a repeal of the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases exclusion or align regulations governing confidentiality of substance use disorder treatment records (42 CFR Part 2) with HIPAA standards.
Senate Republican leaders aim to pass a package in early September. Following the Senate vote, House and Senate members are expected to form a conference committee to merge their respective opioid bills.
Additional Committee Activity
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a Sept. 5 hearing on opportunities to improve health care. The hearing is expected to include a discussion on the Advancing Care for Exceptional (ACE) Kids Act (H.R. 3325/S. 428). The ACE Kids Act would establish a coordinated care model for children with complex medical conditions.