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Legislative Affairs

July 14, 2023

House Republicans Passed a Controversial NDAA

President Biden Wraps up NATO Visit, Promises Continued Support for Ukraine

In another victory for Speaker McCarthy with his narrow House Republican Majority, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a vote of 219-210, a significant departure from previous NDAAs which typically garner broad bipartisan support (last year the NDAA passed the House by a vote of 329-101). The Freedom Caucus forced votes on a slew of amendments including some which passed including prohibiting the Pentagon from covering travel expenses for abortion services, prohibiting the Pentagon from covering gender transition procedures, and prohibiting the Pentagon from funding diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Other Freedom Caucus amendments which failed include blocking defense funding and security assistance for Ukraine, allowing military facilities to keep names of Confederate figures, and prohibiting the transfer of cluster munitions to Ukraine.

Here’s what else you may have missed this week:

House and Senate Appropriations Committees continue FY24 markups. The House Appropriations Committee has released all 12 FY2024 Appropriations bills and completed Full Committee markups on 8 of them. House Appropriations Chair Granger is hoping to bring several bills to the House floor before August recess; stay tuned for developments on this next week.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is also on track to complete 7 markups at Full Committee over the next 2 weeks before the August recess. Notably, Chairwoman Murray and Defense Subcommittee Chair Tester indicated the Defense bill would likely be marked up in late July. To track all the FY2024 appropriations developments please refer to the Congressional Research Service FY2024 Appropriations status table here.

Biden ended his 5-day trip across Europe on Thursday, touting NATO alliance and support of Ukraine. The President was in London before heading to the NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania and wrapping up his travels in Helsinki, Finland. At each stop along the way, the President reaffirmed the United States’ support of Ukraine’s war against the Russia invasion and extolled President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s leadership. This summit comes on the heels of several important geo-political developments, including Finland’s admission to NATO in April, Sweden’s expected inclusion in NATO, and a worsening military leadership situation in Russia, evidenced by the Wagner Group mercenary leader’s mutiny a few weeks prior. Ukraine has NATO members’ support but their ultimate membership in the organization will have to wait until the war ends.

House and Senate weigh in on PAHPA and PBMs. As part of the congressional effort to address the role of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), the Senate Finance Committee released additional legislative drafts focused on regulating how PBMs are paid by health plans to negotiate with drugmakers. The major provisions would prohibit PBMs from getting any income outside of service fees, prohibit those service fees from being related to drugs’ list prices, and require PBMs to send annual reports to Medicare insurance plans about their rebate and price negotiations, a policy that would ban PBMs from charging Medicaid more than they pay for drugs (a practice called spread pricing), and a mandate for the Department of Health and Human Services to outline acceptable performance measures for pharmacies. A Committee markup of the legislation is scheduled for July 26.

On the other side of the Hill the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held a markup to reauthorize the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) which sparked partisan fireworks over the omission of drug shortage and supply chain measures from the pandemic preparedness bills along party lines on Thursday. Republicans plan to write a standalone bill on drug shortages, but Democrats say that’s a stall tactic. The bill, which passed, would renew several of the federal government’s biodefense and pandemic-preparedness programs, which expire Oct. 1.

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