Issues / Legislation

Week Ending January 10, 2020

       Congress convenes Second Session of 116th Congress

USMCA Agreement Moves in the Senate Finance Committee 

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee held a markup on H.R. 5430, the implementing bill of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement, also known as NAFTA 2.0. The bill passed the committee with bipartisan support, 25-3. Sens. Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) voted against the bill. The House passed the bill last month. 

What You Need to Know: The Senate Commerce, Budget and HELP committees will also vote on the bill. It is still unclear when the implementing bill will be brought to the Senate for a full vote. Congress has 90 legislative days to hold votes in both chambers.

Protectors of the ACA Appeal Trump-backed Lawsuit to the Supreme Court

In December, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Trump administration-backed position in Texas vs. United States, striking down the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate as unconstitutional and returning the case to the lower court to issue a final decision on what parts of the ACA should be eliminated. The Democratic attorneys general have requested that the Supreme Court consider the case under a fast track process.

What You Need to Know: The Supreme Court will consider the request for a fast-track review of the case in late January or early February. Should the Supreme Court go that route, oral arguments could be as early as April.

Drug Corporations Hike Prices on Nearly 500 Drugs 

Even though the House passed landmark legislation (H.R. 3) to lower drug prices, with the Senate’s inaction and no law in place, prescription drug corporations have taken advantage of their unchecked power to price gouge. 

What You Need to Know: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is blocking a Senate vote on H.R. 3 and other bills aimed at limiting drug corporations’ power to ramp up prices.  The out-of-pocket health costs for working families and retirees will continue to increase unless the Senate acts.