|Election Results: A Look from Washington on What’s in Store|
by Cynthia E. Blankenship, Esq., IACP Vice President of Government Affairs
Most of the elections are over, and the political ads have for most of us living outside of the eight undecided races have ceased – but what does the result of the election mean for compounding pharmacists? This article will explore what changes will occur when the new Congress reconvenes, the timeframe under which the current Congress is working during Lame Duck, and what all that could mean for compounding pharmacists.
The current Congress will be concluding its business during the Lame Duck Session that stretches from November 12th until the new, 114th Congress convenes on January 3rd.
The current Senate/House convenes on November 12, 2014 with the House set to vote on five pieces of legislation, and the Senate expected to start discussion on the Administration’s nominations. The Republican Party is expected to have its leadership elections for both the House and Senate on November 13th. The House Democrats are expected to host their leadership elections on November 18th.
For those looking at the timeframe ahead for any spending legislation - with Congress leaving for the Thanksgiving holiday, the Louisiana runoff occurring on December 6th, and the current Continuing Resolution set to expire on December 11th, Congress is working with about three weeks total to pass some type of spending legislation to keep the government open past December 11th. Congress, is therefore, faced with two options in the coming weeks: to pass another short-term Continuing Resolution or to pass a longer spending legislation often called an Omnibus bill.
It is very likely that the Republican Party will not want its new Members to have to cast their first votes on spending legislation. Thus, there is a strong incentive to try to proceed with a long-term spending legislation before the 114th Congress takes their seats. While spending legislation is the only must-do piece of legislation for the current Congress, many Members and Senators have expressed desire to address defense authorization, tax extenders, and various nominations.
After the elections, the Balance of Power in the 114th Congress in the Senate will be 53 Republican Senators and 46 Democrat Senators (including the two Independents that Caucus with Democrats) with one race, Louisiana, still undecided. The House Balance of Power will be 244 Republican Representatives and 184 Democrat Representatives with seven races still undecided.
The flip of the Senate and the increase of Republicans in the House leaves many Chairmanships in question. That means many changes for the Committees with jurisdiction over issues impacting compounding pharmacists.
114th Senate Chairmanships:
On the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) could return as Chairman for two more Congresses if he chooses to leave the Agriculture Committee. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) will likely remain the top seat for the Democrats and take on the Ranking Member position. On Senate Budget, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) will likely assume the Chairmanship for the Republicans but the Democrat leadership seat is much more up in the air. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) is next in line but may look to become Ranking Member of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and forgo the Budget Chairmanship. If so, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) fall next in line to Chair Senate Budget.
The Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee has jurisdiction over most of the legislation that impacts health care. As such, most of the legislation impacting compounding pharmacists comes out of the HELP Committee. The Chairmanship of the HELP Committee is currently one of the most up in the air seats. Republicans expect Senator Alexander (R-TN) to claim the Chairmanship. However, while Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) is term limited in the Ranking Member position, Senator Enzi could come back for four more years to claim the Chairmanship. Currently, Senator Enzi has not indicated whether he will do so. For the Democrats, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) is the most senior Senator on HELP but will be faced with giving up her Ranking Member position on Appropriations. As such, next in line for the Democrats is Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), who will have to choose whether to give up a Ranking Members position on Budget. If Senator Murray stays on Budget, the next in line for the Democrats for the Ranking Member position is Senator Sanders.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over most issues falling under the DEA and controlled substances. On Senate Judiciary, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) will likely take the Chairmanship and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will likely assume the position of Ranking Member.
114th House Chairmanships:
On the House Appropriations Committee, Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) will likely maintain his Chairmanship and Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) will likely remain the Ranking Member. On House Budget Committee, the top spot for the Republicans could drastically change, with rumors that current Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) is looking to take over the House Ways and Means Committee. Should he do so, Representative Tom Price (R-GA) is next in line for the Chairmanship. For the Democrats, current Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) will likely remain Ranking Member.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over most legislation impacting health care on its Health Subcommittee. On the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) is expected to maintain his Chairmanship. For the Democrats, with the retirement of current Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA), Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) are next in line to become Ranking Member.
House Judiciary Committee, like Senator Judiciary, has jurisdiction over legislation following under DEA purview and dealing with controlled substances. House Judiciary Committee is expected to remain the same with Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) remaining the Chairman and Representative John Conyers (D-MI) remaining Ranking Member.
House Ways and Means has jurisdiction over Medicare and Medicaid spending and thus oversees cuts to the programs. This House Committee is expected to experience the most change with Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) seeking the Chairmanship. Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX), however, has said he will challenge Representative Ryan for the position. Representative Sandy Levin (D-MI) is expected to remain Ranking Member for the Democrats.
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