On Capitol Hill, the month of October was particularly chaotic (even by Congressional standards). The month started with Congress passing a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government open and operating while legislators work to finalize Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 appropriations, the conservative wing of the Republican Caucus then responded by ousting Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for supporting a bipartisan CR package, and the month ended with Republicans electing Congressman Mike Johnson (R-LA) as the new Speaker.
The Speaker is a constitutional position and with the chamber leaderless for weeks, all legislative business in the House was effectively frozen. Even now, it is unclear what path the new House leadership team and Committee Chairs will take on appropriations and other legislative items. What is known is that lawmakers will need to finalize FY 2024 funding bills before the current CR expires ahead of Thanksgiving (which seems unlikely) or pass another CR to buy more time (and will require the support of the Seante and the White House).
The Senate made it clear early on that the situation in the would not be a distraction and continued to work on a bipartisan basis to advance the business of the chamber. Senate leadership announced a plan to begin bringing FY 2024 spending bills to the floor and passing them through a series of minibus packages. Further, the Senate HELP Committee advanced the nomination of Dr. Monica Bertagnolli to serve as the next Director of the National Institutes of Health in a bipartisan vote of 15-6. The nomination will now move to the floor of the Senate for a final confirmation vote (though the timetable is unclear).
The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at NIH is currently crafting its next Strategic Plan for 2024 – 2029 and inviting community input through an RFI process. More information will be available moving forward, but the effort can be tracked here: https://ncats.nih.gov/about/ncats-overview/strategic-plan.
By: Dane Christiansen, Washington Representative