Advocacy Corner

Carter L. Alleman, J.D.

Congress’ Priorities for the 2020 Session

Impeachment proceedings are expected to dominate the U.S. Senate the first weeks of this new year, which already faces a compressed legislative calendar due to the November 2020 presidential elections. Once the impeachment proceedings begin, all other legislative business will be put on hold until the trial is completed. The trial proceedings are expected to be held six days a week. Senate Majority Leader McConnell has said he expects the trial to last approximately two to three weeks

Lawmakers have several health care priorities on their agendas for 2020. House Democrats plan to renew efforts to pass legislation to lower drug prices. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) stated in a Dear Colleague letter that she will push for the Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3) to be included in a reauthorization package of health care programs set to expire May 22. The drug pricing bill passed the House in December, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said that he will not take it up for a vote in the Senate. The Senate also has its own lower drug pricing legislation by Senator Grassely and Senator Alexander, both of which are having trouble moving the bill past Senator McConnell. 

There is also bipartisan interest in pursuing a solution to end the practice of surprise medical billing. (More information on these efforts is found in the Washington Watch) The fiscal year (FY) 2020 funding package included a short-term extension of several federal health programs through May 22. This reauthorization deadline was intended to force an agreement on the issues of surprise billing, drug pricing, and lowering health care costs more broadly.