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Media Wrap-Up: Leader Rodgers’ E&C Health Priorities


11.17.22

Energy and Commerce Republicans are ready to hit the ground running next Congress. Don’t miss the below key coverage outlining top priorities for 2023, including combatting the fentanyl crisis, returning to pre-pandemic life, investigating the origins of COVID-19, and holding the Biden administration accountable for its many failures.

Combatting the Fentanyl Crisis

Republicans are aiming to conduct investigations into the Biden administration’s pandemic spending, the origins of the coronavirus, and the tech industry’s role in the fentanyl crisis if they take control of the House and Senate next week.

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GOP leaders slotted to succeed their Democratic colleagues on key health committees have indicated they plan to scrutinize Big Tech to do more to crack down on illegal fentanyl sales on their platforms and oversee how the Department of Health and Human Services will implement new drug pricing policies under Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act, among other items.

CLICK HERE to read the full article in the Washington Examiner.

Illicit fentanyl is surging across our southern border and killing more people than ever. This drug is so dangerous and potent that just a few milligrams, which can fit in the ear of Lincoln on a penny, can be lethal.

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First and foremost, we need to secure the border. A Biden administration official with the Office of National Drug Control Policy confirmed to the Energy and Commerce Committee that the southern border is primarily how these substances are getting into America. With help from Chinese chemical companies, Mexican drug cartels are trafficking enough illicit fentanyl into the United States to kill every American many times over. A secure border is our strongest defense to crack down on Chinese illicit fentanyl, stop the cartels, and keep these weapon-grade poisons off our streets.

In addition, we need to make sure law enforcement have permanent tools to seize fentanyl-related substances, which are analogues of fentanyl that can be even more dangerous and deadly.

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To make sure fentanyl-related substances don’t become street legal, Republicans are leading on the Halt All Lethal Trafficking of Fentanyl Act. This will give law enforcement the permanent tools they need to seize these poisons and keep our communities safe.

CLICK HERE to watch the full interview.

Returning to Normal

President Biden declared in September that the COVID-19 pandemic was “over.” If Republicans win control of Congress, they’ll demand U.S. policy reflects that conclusion.

Why it matters: The pandemic ushered in revolutionary changes to U.S. health and economic policy. While many pandemic-era restrictions have already been rolled back, a full reversion to pre-COVID governance would have profound consequences for American life.

  • In particular, the ongoing public health emergency and the national emergency declaration give the executive branch sweeping powers in critical areas of public policy, including health care, student loans and border security.

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Energy & Commerce: A GOP committee aide told Axios that returning to “normal” is a priority, namely by ending the public health emergency, stopping unnecessary pandemic spending, and reversing any worker COVID mandates.

  • Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the top Republican on the committee, has repeatedly called for the Biden administration to provide a plan to unwind the public health emergency.
  • The aide also said the panel’s COVID top oversight targets are the virus’ origins, policies around school shutdowns, and Democrats’ pandemic spending.

CLICK HERE to read more from Axios.

Health Care Cybersecurity

 

Republican victories in Tuesday’s elections could benefit patients, businesses and health care providers who’ve liked pandemic-era rules that have made telehealth easier to use.

Although telehealth is broadly bipartisan, Republicans are more fervent in their telehealth enthusiasm than their Democratic counterparts, Ben reports.

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Here are some other GOP priorities: 

Cybersecurity: The GOP is signaling that it will focus on legislation to stop hackers who’ve besieged U.S. health care organizations.

Republicans introduced several cybersecurity bills just ahead of the elections, including one from House Energy and Commerce ranking member Brett Guthrie of Kentucky aimed at bolstering the Department of Health and Human Services’ defenses.

The goal is bipartisan. This month, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) released a cybersecurity report calling for stronger leadership from HHS.

AI/Innovation: House Republicans’ Healthy Future Task Force has targeted expanding Medicare breakthrough-device coverage as a priority, as well as modernizing clinical trials and using artificial intelligence to root out fraud.

Tech oversight: Republicans have pushed tech companies, including Snapchat and TikTok, to take more action to prevent fentanyl sales on their platforms.

CLICK HERE to read more from Politico Pulse.

Uncovering the Origins of COVID-19

Rep Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) who is poised to ascend to the Energy and Commerce Committee chairmanship, said over the summer: ‘There are so many questions that need to be answered about the government’s response to Covid-19. 

‘How the pandemic started, that’s probably the most important public health question that needs to be answered,’ she said. 

Gaining that subpoena power would give Republicans the green light to compel testimony and obtain documents, likely sparking fierce political showdowns in Congressional hearings and partisan bickering behind the scenes. 

CLICK HERE to read more from Daily Mail.

Holding the Biden Administration Accountable

 

Congressional Republicans are floating sweeping investigations into the Biden administration’s COVID-19 spending and are looking to tighten the purse strings on agency funding should they hold majorities after next week’s midterms.  

Republicans are frustrated with what they see as the administration’s unaccountable coronavirus spending and are looking to shine a spotlight on where the trillions of dollars doled out by the White House have gone. 

CLICK HERE to read more from The Hill.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has sweeping jurisdiction over health-related issues and could be led next year by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). The panel’s GOP lawmakers will also continue probing the origins of the coronavirus, and have opened inquiries into biosafety practices overseen by federal agencies. Here’s what else the panel is planning to focus on, per a committee GOP aide:

  • Biden administration covid policies, such as the impact of school-related policies on children.
  • The increasing rate of deaths from fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid.
  • Hearings regarding federal health agencies potentially related to the pandemic response and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
  • Oversight into how the federal health department decides to implement Democrats’ new drug pricing policies.
  • Transparency into how much hospitals are charging, an effort which has been bipartisan.

 

CLICK HERE to read more from the Washington Post.

Republican leaders of a House health panel are pushing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for answers on flaws in the agency’s initial response to the spread of monkeypox in the US.

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Republicans are focusing their oversight less on the White House’s relationship with scientific agencies like the CDC and more on public safety issues.

Rodgers, Guthrie, and Griffith this week wrote to the National Institutes of Health asking about research into monkeypox that potentially involved making a version of the virus that was more lethal to mice.

CLICK HERE to read more from Bloomberg Government.


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