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Weekly Washington Update: Impeachment, Dobbs Anniversary, Economic Bills, and More - Pat Soldano
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House Sends Biden Impeachment Effort to Committees: Yesterday, the House voted 219-208 to refer articles of impeachment against President Biden to the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees. Sending the measure to committees helped avoid political tensions between conservative Republicans and Republicans representing more moderate districts. Earlier this week, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) introduced a privileged resolution to bring her impeachment measure to the House floor despite Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) opposition. Rep. Boebert’s measure argues that President Biden’s actions on immigration and the southern border warrant impeachment.

One-Year Anniversary of Dobbs Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade: June 24 marks one year since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling overturned the right to an abortion set 50 years previously by Roe v. Wade. In the year since Dobbs, 15 states made abortion illegal with few exceptions while abortion remains legal in 26 states and Washington, D.C. Abortion also was on the November 2022 ballot in six states—measures to establish state rights to abortion were approved in California, Michigan and Vermont while measures to restrict abortion were rejected by voters in Kansas, Kentucky and Montana. Abortion bans in Indiana, Ohio, South Carolina and Wyoming have not taken effect while state supreme courts review them.

The decision also set off a flurry of court cases around abortion access. Forty lawsuits across 22 states have been filed since last June, and 29 cases remain pending at the trial or appellate level. The Supreme Court has since intervened in the case around the abortion drug mifepristone, pausing a lower court order to ban the drug nationwide. Several cases focused on Title X, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), and religious beliefs could also make their way to the Supreme Court.

Over 200 Lawmakers Urge CMS to Strengthen Prior Authorization Proposed Rules: On Wednesday, June 21, 233 members of Congress and 61 senators sent a letter  to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) urging the agency to alter and finalize proposed rules for modernizing and streamlining the Medicare Advantage (MA) prior authorization process. The lawmakers called for CMS to add several provisions of the Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act, which unanimously passed the House last session, to the proposed rules, including real-time electronic decision-making for routinely approved services, decisions within 24 hours for emergency procedures, and detailed transparency metrics.

House Passes CHOICE Arrangement Act: The House passed the Custom Health Option and Individual Care Expense (CHOICE) Arrangement Act (H.R. 3799 ) 220-209 on Wednesday, June 21. The bill codifies a 2019 Trump administration rule allowing employers to provide funds for employees to purchase their own health plan in the individual market.

More Lawsuits Against IRA Drug Price Negotiation: On Wednesday, June 21, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) filed a lawsuit challenging the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA) drug price negotiation program, echoing several other high-profile lawsuits against the law. PhRMA, along with the National Infusion Center Association (NICA) and the Global Colon Cancer Association (GCCA), argues that the Medicare drug price negotiation part of the law violates the Fifth and Eight Amendments. Other lawsuits filed by Merck, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Bristol Myers Squibb similarly contend that the IRA goes against the First, Fifth and Eighth Amendments and federal government separation of powers.

Preventive Service Task Force Recommends Anxiety Screening for Adults: On Tuesday, June 20, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) announced its recommendation that all adults 19–64 years old be screened for anxiety. USPSTF stated that anxiety disorders are common but often go unrecognized in the primary care setting and treatment can often be delayed or is inadequate for patient needs. The task force cited that 25% of men and 40% of women report having an anxiety disorder at some point in their lifetime, and their recommendation includes a call for providers to receive better training around anxiety disorders and overall mental health stigma.

House Tax-Writing Committee Advances GOP Economic Bills: The House Ways and Means Committee approved a trio of Republican tax bills along party lines during a markup last week. The economic-growth package, which is comprised of the Tax Cuts for Working Families Act (H.R. 3936 ), the Small Business Jobs Act (H.R. 3937 ) and the Build It in America Act (H.R. 3938 ), incorporates several tax proposals that were previously offered by Republican committee members as standalone bills earlier this year. For Brownstein’s full summary of the tax package, click here .

Democratic lawmakers offered several amendments to the bills throughout the markup, but none were adopted due to unanimous rejection from the Republican majority. Several Democrats targeted the proposed repeal of several green-energy tax credits; Reps. Dan Kildee (D-MI) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) offered amendments to maintain the current clean-vehicle and electricity tax credits. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) proposed adding a provision that would apply the global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI) regime on a “country-by-country” basis instead of its current global-aggregate approach.

Committee members also debated the merits of proposals to raise the current $10,000 state and local tax (SALT) deduction limit. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) offered an amendment that would increase the SALT cap to an inflation-adjusted $60,000 ($120,000 for joint filers) for tax years 2023 through 2032. Although Reps. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) and Claudia Tenney (R-NY) noted their support for SALT reform, they sided with the other Republican committee members in rejecting the proposal.

After the markup, several off-committee Republican lawmakers, including Reps. Mike Garcia (R-CA) and Nick LaLota (R-NY), signaled they may not support the bills on the House floor due to the absence of SALT relief. Rep. LaLota said he is pushing other members of the GOP conference to insist on the inclusion of a SALT amendment to the tax package before it receives floor consideration.

Notwithstanding disapproval from some SALT advocates, the House is expected to pass the unamended package in the coming weeks. While the partisan bills are unlikely to receive consideration in the Democratic-controlled Senate, the individual proposals included in the legislation lay the groundwork for the development of future bipartisan tax legislation in the 118th Congress. During the markup, Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) noted that Democrats “stand ready to negotiate some of [the tax] proposals” offered in the bills.

Senate Democrats Increase Efforts to Expand CTC: Last week, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing to discuss potential tax reform to assist children and families. The hearing came alongside the reintroduction of the Working Families Tax Relief Act (S.1992 ) by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). The bill would increase the child tax credit (CTC) to $3,000 per child for taxpayers with children less than 17 years old, and it would increase the credit by an additional $600 for each child under age 6. Sen. Brown’s proposal would also reinstate the COVID-19-era monthly advanced CTC payment system and make the credit fully refundable. Beyond its expansion of the CTC, the bill would significantly increase the value of the earned income tax credit (EITC), especially for individuals without children. Some Republicans raised concerns regarding the proposal, including Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), who expressed skepticism over “declaring [previous CTC expansions] to be highly successful with only five months of data.”

Senate Expected to (Finally) Ratify Chile Tax Treaty in Coming Weeks: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) filed cloture on a tax treaty  between the United States and Chile last week, setting the stage for a possible Senate vote as early as today. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 20-1 on June 1 to approve the measure to ratify the treaty. Since 2010, the treaty has been advanced by the Foreign Relations Committee on four occasions but never considered by the full Senate. The treaty is expected to increase investment by U.S. and Chilean companies by reducing applicable taxpayers’ withholding tax rates on dividends, interest and royalties.

Bernstein Confirmed as White House’s Top Economic Adviser: The Senate confirmed Jared Bernstein to become chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) by a 50-49 vote last week. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV) sided with every voting Republican in opposition to the nomination, citing Bernstein’s perceived “willingness to disregard the need for all-of-the-above energy policies.” Throughout the nomination process, Senate Republicans attempted to characterize Bernstein as inexperienced and frequently noted his previous support for proposals to raise the estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer taxes as evidence for his partisan biases. Bernstein was formerly a member of the CEA and, before that, served on then Vice President Joe Biden’s staff as a senior economic adviser.

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