Joe Williams

Biden Presents 'Moonshot' Task Force Report
Program has yet to receive appropriated money

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. released on Monday a federal report on the cancer moonshot initiative that highlights goals to accelerate the development of cures, including more widespread sharing of data and faster research and approval timelines for new treatments.

Biden presented to President Barack Obama on Monday afternoon the report from the Cancer Moonshot Task Force, a federal panel with representatives from the Health and Human Services Department, National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration and others.

‘Cures’ Package Not Unanimously Backed by Democrats, Pelosi Says
NIH funding aimed at bringing some lawmakers on board

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters Wednesday that she stands ready to help pass the 21st Century Cures bill in the lame-duck session but “that’s not a universal view” among House Democrats.

“Some people don’t have the same support for it, so we’re just going to have to build consensus,” the California Democrat said.

Update to Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines Raises Concerns

Advocacy groups claim a recent draft of recommendations to update federal guidelines on women’s preventive health care failed to consider the diverse U.S. population and instead relied too heavily on data specifically on Caucasian women.

A key component of the new guidelines will affect the age at which insurance companies must cover the cost of women's preventive breast cancer screenings, a controversial argument that dates back to before the 2010 health care overhaul.

Pharmaceutical Lobby Shakeup Precedes Drug Price Battle
PhRMA has spent $11.7 million on lobbying so far this year

The Washington lobbying group representing big pharmaceutical manufacturers is shedding high-level officials even as it prepares for what is shaping up to be an intense battle over rising prescription drug prices.

Several top employees have left or are preparing to leave the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA. That includes Charles Clapton and Pam Smith, considered the group's top Republican and Democratic representatives, industry lobbyists and other sources said. Jennifer Romans, the vice president of federal advocacy, also left recently, and several sources said they expect more departures.

White House Outlines Next Steps on Cancer 'Moonshot'
New initiatives include public-private partnerships

The White House on Wednesday announced several initiatives as part of President Barack Obama’s cancer “moonshot” program that include new collaboration among agencies as well as between the federal government and private industry.  

The administration also said it will redesign the website for the National Cancer Institute within the National Institutes of Health to allow patients to better search for appropriate clinical trials. The Food and Drug Administration confirmed it would move forward with the creation of an oncology center aimed at streamlining the review of new cancer treatments.  

Shimkus, Walden Ramp Up Campaign for Energy and Commerce Gavel
Two-man races pits seniority versus fundraising prowess

Republican Reps. John Shimkus and Greg Walden are intensifying their campaigns to replace Chairman Fred Upton atop the powerful Energy and Commerce committee next year.  

 Lawmakers and lobbyists say more discussions are occurring on and off the Hill about the position and Upton's replacement in recent weeks. Shimkus of Illinois is public about his interest, while Oregon's Walden said in an interview he'd want to lead the committee "at some point" but is now focused on his work as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.  

NIH to Require Researchers Receiving Grants to Share Data
Part of a broader shift for biomedical field

The National Institutes of Health will require applicants for federal research funding to submit a plan outlining how data gleaned from a potential project will be shared with the public, Director Francis Collins told CQ Roll Call. This move is part of a larger push from President Barack Obama’s administration to make information gathered from government-backed studies more public.

Academic research institutions and others have traditionally kept such data private. One of the more commonly cited justifications is the need to keep information proprietary in order to enhance their future applications with unique data and earn additional grants from the NIH. Collins said in an interview that notion is no longer accurate, and said the agency will begin to require applicants to all NIH centers to include a data-sharing strategy in grant proposals.

A Busy Week for Republican Tax Bills in Both House and Senate

There are some differences between the House and Senate versions of the GOP tax overhaul. As the Senate is set to begin its own markup of legislation this week, Roll Call Senate reporter Joseph Williams discusses what he’s watching on both ends of the Capitol....
Mitch McConnell Stays on Message at Ham Breakfast
At Kentucky event, majority leader declines to address rift with Trump

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Comfortable on his home turf here at the Kentucky Country Ham Breakfast and Auction, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not address the growing rift between congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump, opting instead to spend a notable portion of his address Thursday criticizing the former administration.

“The single figure that stands about above all else is we didn’t have a single year of three percent growth,” McConnell said of the last eight years at the annual event hosted by the Kentucky Farm Bureau. “This new administration in Washington and this Congress is interested in getting America growing again.”

Senate Obamacare Repeal Vote Possible Next Week

The Senate could vote as early as next Thursday on legislation to reader the U.S. health care system, a lawmaker and lobbyists tell CQ Roll Call.

That is an ambitious timeline, especially since no legislative language has been made public and several lawmakers are still unsure exactly what proposals are under consideration. But GOP aides say Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is eager to move on past the health care issue and is charging ahead with a vote despite the uncertainty surrounding whether it could pass.

GOP Might Buck Senate Rules to Pass Health Care Overhaul
Parliamentarian decision still pending on House bill compliance with reconciliation

Republicans appear ready to make a small, but significant change to historic Senate procedure in order to advance their legislation to rework the U.S. health insurance system, a move that could have notable impact on the future of the chamber’s operations.

GOP leaders are sending signals that, if necessary, they plan to invoke a seldom-used rule included in the Congressional Budget Act that would allow Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi to skirt a decision from the chamber’s parliamentarian, a key gate-keeper for the budget maneuver known as reconciliation that Republicans are using to advance their health insurance measure.

Abortion Provisions Said to be Dropped From Senate Health Bill
Lobbyists say two abortion-related measures ran afoul of Senate rules

Two abortion-related provisions in the House-passed bill that rewrites the U.S. health insurance system have been dropped from the Senate’s counterpart version, according to several lobbyists.

A number of GOP offices would not confirm whether those provisions are still in the legislation and several aides cautioned that the working draft is still undergoing multiple revisions and that those measures could still be included.

Senators Push Back on Trump Drug Abuse Actions
Republicans pledge to fight funding cuts, shifts in criminal enforcement policy

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump pledged to tackle prescription drug abuse and the flow of illegal drugs into the country. But his White House efforts are off to a rocky start so far.

Earlier this year, Trump appointed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to lead a opioid crisis task force. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, along with other administration officials including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have embarked on a listening tour of areas ravaged by the opioid epidemic.

Comey to Senate Intel Committee: No Thanks
Deputy Attorney General to hold all-senator briefing

Former FBI Director James B. Comey has declined an offer to testify on Tuesday in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. 

“He won’t be testifying on Tuesday but it is our hope in the not too distant future that we can find time for him to come,” Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the panel, said on MSNBC on Friday afternoon. “I believe the appropriate time and place, he will tell his side of the story. And my hope is that will be in front of our committee.”

Senate Obamacare Repeal Bill Largely an Entitlement Overhaul
Proposal would maintain key aspects of the 2010 health care law

A draft of the Senate counterpart legislation to overhaul the U.S. health insurance system unveiled Thursday would make drastic changes to the Medicaid program, but largely retain the existing federal tax credit structure from the 2010 health care law that helps individuals afford insurance, among other provisions. 

The proposal is part of the Republicans’ seven-year effort to gut former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement. Senate GOP leadership, which has crafted the bill largely behind closed doors with virtually no public input, has faced difficulty in bridging the gap between moderate and conservative demands.

Democrats Decry ‘Legislative Malpractice’ on Health Care
GOP cites seven-year repeal effort as justification for current process

Senate Democrats on Tuesday continued to assail how Republican leaders are crafting legislation to overhaul the U.S. health care system, calling it “legislative malpractice,” and are using GOP leaders’ own statements from years past to make their point.  

While Republican members routinely criticize the manner in which Democrats passed the 2010 health care law on a strictly party-line vote, there are stark differences between that process and the current one.

Heller ‘Will Not Support’ Draft Senate GOP Health Bill
Nevada Republican joins chorus of senators raising concerns over proposal


Sen. Dean Heller came out in opposition Friday to draft legislation released Thursday that would overhaul the U.S. health insurance system, teeing up a major battle for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

The Real 13 Senators to Watch on Health Care
The moderates, conservatives and Democrats who will influence how the Senate bill gets shaped


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s 13-member health care working group has gotten a lot of attention. But in the Senate, where a minority group of members can effectively stall any legislation from advancing, buy-in from the broader Republican Conference will be necessary for the GOP to succeed in overhauling President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement, the 2010 health care law.

Republicans Return From Recess Under Health Care Time Crunch
Key decisions on Obamacare repeal bill will need to be made in the coming weeks

Republican senators return on Monday from a 10-day recess with immediate decisions to make on their quest to overhaul the 2010 health care law.

While Senate leaders have largely avoided putting any artificial timelines on their endeavor, the GOP is under an extreme time crunch to produce and advance their own legislation to match the House bill that narrowly passed the chamber last month.

McConnell Abandons Obamacare Repeal and Replace Effort
Announcement comes after Lee, Moran pulled support for health care bill

Updated July 18, 2017, 12:14 a.m. | Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pulled the plug late Monday on the Republican effort to overhaul the U.S. health insurance system and pledged the chamber will now focus on only dismantling the 2010 health care law.

“Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” the Kentucky Republican said.