Reps. Fortenberry and Vela to Resign

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) will resign from the House of Representatives following felony convictions on charges related to an illegal campaign contribution. His sentencing is set for June 28. Fortenberry is a member of the House Appropriations Committee. Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas) will also resign from Congress in the coming weeks. Vela had previously announced that he would not seek reelection this November but has now accepted a position at Akin Gump and will resign before the end of the 117th Congress. Vela serves on the Agriculture and Armed Services committees.

OSHA Schedules Hearing on Permanent COVID Standard

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will hold an online public hearing on a proposed permanent regulation to protect health care workers and support service workers against occupational exposure to COVID-19 on April 27. The proposed regulation would replace the emergency temporary standard (ETS) that is no longer being enforced because the agency failed to meet the December 21, 2021, deadline for enacting a permanent regulation. OSHA has not released the details of the proposed permanent standard, but it is expected to align with the now-lapsed ETS. The ETS required facilities likely to care for coronavirus patients to establish prevention programs and enact protective measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. OSHA is also reopening the rulemaking record to allow for comments on topics including:

  • Alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations for health care infection control procedures;
  • Additional flexibility for employers;
  • Removal of scope exemptions;
  • Tailoring controls to address interactions with people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19;
  • Employer support for employees who wish to be vaccinated;
  • Limited coverage of construction activities in health care settings;
  • COVID-19 recordkeeping and reporting provisions;
  • Triggering requirements based on community transmission levels;
  • The potential evolution of SARS-CoV-2 into a second novel strain; and
  • The health effects and risk of COVID-19 since the ETS was issued; The agency will accept written comments until April 22, 2022.

Psaki and Clinton Experience Breakthrough Cases of COVID-19

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has tested positive for COVID-19. Psaki previously tested positive for the virus in October 2021. Psaki was not considered a close contact of President Joe Biden. She canceled plans to accompany the President on a trip to Europe according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tested positive last week and has been experiencing mild symptoms.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings and Markups

House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing “Examining Pathways to Universal Health Coverage;” 9:00 a.m.; March 29

House Budget Committee hearing “The President’s Fiscal Year 2023 Budget;” 10:00 a.m.; March 29 Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Department of Defense hearing to examine the Defense Health Program; 10:00 a.m.; March 29

Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing “Economic Impact of the Growing Burden of Medical Debt;” 10:00 a.m.; March 29

House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing “Moving Beyond the Coronavirus Crisis: The Biden Administration’s Progress in Combating the Pandemic and Plan for the Next Phase;” 10:00 a.m.; March 30

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing “FDA User Fee Reauthorization: Ensuring Safe and Effective Medical Devices;” 10:00 a.m.; March 30

Senate Finance Committee hearing “Behavioral Health Care When Americans Need It: Ensuring Parity and Care Integration;” 10:00 a.m.; March 30

House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing “Preventing Pandemics through US Wildlife-borne Disease Surveillance;” 10:00 a.m.; March 30

Senate Budget Committee hearing “The President’s Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Proposal;” 11:00 a.m.; March 30

House Science, Space, & Technology Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight hearing “The New Normal: Preparing for and Adapting to the Next Phase of COVID-19;” 10:00 a.m.; March 31

House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies hearing “FY 2023 Budget Request for the Department of Health and Human Services;” 10:00 a.m.; March 31

Recently Introduced Health Legislation

H.R.7167 — To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to make food and food additives that are sterilized using ethylene oxide or propylene oxide misbranded unless that use is disclosed on its labeling, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Newman, Marie [D-IL-3]; Committees: House - Ways and Means

H.R.7166 — To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for extended expensing of pharmaceutical manufacturing property, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Mooney, Alexander X. [R-WV-2]; Committees: House - Ways and Means

H.R.7158 — To amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to enter into contracts and agreements for the payment of care in non-Department of Veterans Affairs medical foster homes for certain veterans who are unable to live independently, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Higgins, Clay [R-LA-3]; Committees: House - Veterans’ Affairs

H.R.7156 — To amend title XIX of the Social Security Act to provide States with an option to provide medical assistance to individuals between the ages of 22 and 64 for inpatient services to treat substance use disorders at certain facilities, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Foster, Bill [D-IL-11]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

H.R.7153 — To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit to Congress a plan to modernize the information technology systems of the Veterans Benefits Administration, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Bost, Mike [R-IL-12]; Committees: House - Veterans’ Affairs

H.R.7152 — To strengthen and expand activities related to genomic sequencing of pathogens, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Bera, Ami [D-CA-7]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

H.Res.997 — Recognizing the 100th anniversary of the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and the importance of Commission on Cancer-accredited programs in ensuring comprehensive, high-quality, patient-centered cancer care. Sponsor: Rep. Higgins, Brian [D-NY-26]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

H.Con.Res.81 — Expressing the sense of Congress that the United States representative to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs should use the voice, vote, and influence of the United States to seek to de-schedule cannabis from Schedule I of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 and take other related actions; Sponsor: Rep. Mace, Nancy [R-SC-1]; Committees: House - Foreign Affairs

H.R.7176 — To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide a burial allowance for certain veterans who die at home while in receipt of hospice care furnished by the Department of Veterans Affairs; Sponsor: Rep. Bergman, Jack [R-MI-1]; Committees: House - Veterans’ Affairs

H.R.7177 — To amend the Public Health Service Act to authorize a scholarship and loan repayment program to incentivize physicians to enter into the field of sickle cell disease research and treatment, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Crist, Charlie [D-FL-13]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

H.R.7180 — To authorize the Director of the National Science Foundation to award grants to support research on the disruption of regular cognitive processes associated with COVID-19 infection, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Gonzalez, Anthony [R-OH-16]; Committees: House - Science, Space, and Technology

H.R.7186 — To amend title 38, United States Code, to establish an extended deadline for the submission of applications regarding emergency treatment furnished in non-Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Mast, Brian J. [R-FL-18]; Committees: House - Veterans’ Affairs

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