Heading into the August congressional recess, all eyes in the political world are on the U.S. Senate. Currently, the Senate Appropriations Committee is planning to mark up Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 spending bills for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (L-HHS), the Department of Defense (DOD), and a few others. Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee is advancing work on Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) reform, which is quickly becoming a vehicle for other health and patient care policy items. Similarly, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is working on a reauthorization of the Pandemic All Hazards Preparedness and Response Act and pulling in additional items related to medical research and patient care.
The House has continued to mark up FY 2024 appropriations bills that feature deep cuts to non-defense federal programs. While the House FY24 DoD and VA spending bills enhance, or at least maintain, the investment in medical research programs, other bills (such as those focused on FDA or global health) see deep cuts to overall and program-level spending. The House spending bills have also featured a number of hot-button policy riders dealing with polarizing social issues, which are traditionally not part of the appropriations process beyond narrow and limited instances. The House has yet to release official information on the FY 2024 L-HHS bill, but previously telegraphed that the bill will include deep cuts for NIH, CDC, ARHQ, and other agencies (though it appears NCATS and CTSAs will be level-funded).
The Senate Appropriations Committee has taken a bipartisan approach on spending and regularly criticized House activity. Senators from both sides of the aisle have called for additional investment in both Defense and non-Defense programs. The House bills have also been referred to as not serious, but both chambers and the White House will ultimately need to reach agreement on final FY 2024 funding and a Continuing Resolution to keep the government operating at the start of October. The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to release information on the FY 2024 L-HHS and DOD bills ahead of the August recess.
By: Dane Christiansen, Washington Representative