2023 – Let’s Recap!
During Part 1 (2023) of the 118th Congress, we saw unprecedented chaos from historic moments such as fights for Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, to looming government shutdowns, to Member conflicts, to increasing discourse on issues such as age limits for Congress’ and federal officials, censures, and military nominations.
So far, in the 118th Congress, 15,074 bills have been introduced – 9,316 in the House and 5,758 in the Senate. Of more than 15,000 bills introduced, only 2,868 have been considered in their respective committees and 747 have passed one chamber of the legislature. Ultimately, only 38 of these pieces of legislation have gone on to become law, meaning that only about .25% of the bills introduced in the 118th Congress so far have successfully made it through the legislative process. Could this be due to political extremities that have exacerbated polarization? Or is this just how the legislative process works?
The 117th Congress (2021-2022) shows that about 1.47% of bills introduced became law, nearly 6x more than the 118th Congress thus far. Compared to the 106th Congress (1999-2000), 604 bills became law out of 16,274 that were introduced. A pre-9/11 America shows about 3.7% percent of bills introduced into Congress actually became law – that’s almost 15x more laws or “successful” bills compared to the current Congress, so far. During the 106th Congress, Taxation issues were most prevalent in introduced legislation.
Based on all the bills introduced in this Congress, Health policy issues take the lead with over 1,500 bills (10% of all bills). Reflective in current political debates and social issues, we can assume that issues surrounding public health and health care will be of the most important policy issue areas for Congress in 2024, and for the country ahead of the Presidential Election in November 2024.
2024 – So Far and Looking Ahead
Out of more than 15,000 bills introduced in the 118th Congress, 514 pieces of legislation were introduced in the first month of 2024. Here are some recently introduced bills to keep an eye on:
- H.R. 7024 – Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024 – Aims to support working-class families and main street businesses through several tax relief measures, such as increasing and modifying child tax credit provisions. This bill passed the House on 1/31/2024.
- H.R. 6981 / S. 3589 – Preventing Private Paramilitary Activity Act of 2024 – Establishes a federal statutory framework to prohibit certain conduct involving actions as a part of/on behalf of a private paramilitary organization while armed.
- S. 3661 – Farm and Food Cybersecurity Act of 2024 – Addresses cybersecurity threats to American Agriculture through strengthening cybersecurity to protect the critical infrastructure sectors of food and agriculture.
Only one month into the second half of the 118th Congress, 2024 shows no lack of promise for continued stress and negotiation over policy issues like that of 2023. Policymakers have kicked off discussions on policies such as taxes, national security, and the federal budget. See below for an overview of some of the key policy issues that have already set the stage for Congress in 2024.
Short-Term Spending Deal(s) to Avoid Potential Government Shutdown
On Tuesday January 16, 2024, the Senate began “the process to pass a clean continuing resolution that will avert a shutdown and give Congress the time it needs to finish our work to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year” – U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) via X (Twitter).
The recent short-term spending agreement moves government funding deadlines from January 19 and February 2 to March 1 and March 8. This allows policymakers more time to negotiate a compromise to keep the government funded and avoid a government shutdown in March. Some of the government funding expirations within the negotiations are Medicaid policies and Health Care Extenders, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and other government funding/appropriations matters. For more information on FY2024 appropriations and the programs seeking funding reauthorization, look at H.R. 6363 – Further Continuing Appropriations and Other Extensions Act, 2024.
Spending Bills, Access to Care, and Women’s Health
Health care continues to be one of the most prominent, critical areas of public policy in the United States. Much policy pertaining to health care remains unfinished, somewhat in part to the adjusted deadlines for FY2024 Appropriations, of which, includes several health-related programs. Aside from FY 2024 Appropriations, health-related areas of interest to watch out for in 2024 include:
- Health Care Extenders – Extensions for health care programs such as the Special Diabetes Program, Community Health Center Fund and National Health Service Corps, and several Medicaid-related items. A 3.4% cut to the Medicare physician fee schedule conversion factor went into effect January 1, 2024, which may add urgency to health care/health care extender-related legislation as deadlines approach.
- Reauthorization of the SUPPORT Act – H.R. 4531 remains under Senate consideration in hopes to reauthorize grants, programs, and activities that address substance abuse/misuse through FY2028, in accordance with Public Law in 2018 under H.R. 6 – SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act.
- Reauthorization of PAHPA (Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act) – Some of PAHPA’s programs have been extended by Congress, but difficulty still lies in agreement on a final bill between the House and Senate. The current bill, S. 2333, remains on the Senate floor.
- Drug Shortages and Pricing – A priority of the Biden Administration, seen through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
- Artificial Intelligence – In the 118th Congress, there has been a significant increase in attention to AI, including AI implications for health care and life sciences. In October 2023, President Biden signed an Executive Order regarding regulation of AI – for more information, see the LinkedIn post analyzing this EO.
Additionally, women’s health care issues remain at the center of political discourse. Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, reproductive rights and health have been in the spotlight more than ever. With this judicial action, U.S. states acquired the responsibility to enforce and monitor reproductive health measures pertaining birth control, miscarriages, and pregnancy termination.
Taxes – Bipartisan Tax Deal
Child Tax Credit, Affordable Housing, and Tax Breaks
“I’m thrilled to announce we officially have a deal to expand the Child Tax Credit, build more than 200,000 new affordable homes, and boost our economic competitiveness and innovation.” – Chairman of U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) via X (Twitter).
The bipartisan tax deal legislation – H.R. 7024 (Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024) – seeks to promote economic innovation and growth while also aiding families in need. The $78 billion package would temporarily expand the child tax credit, boost the low-income housing tax credit, and restore business tax deductions for 100% of research and development expenses and capital expenditures for plant and equipment. For more information, head to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance’s press release announcing the agreement on the tax framework to help families and main street businesses.
U.S. Border Policy, Immigration, and Foreign Aid for Ukraine and Israel
Border security and support for or against foreign conflicts remain important issues in U.S. politics and leading up to the 2024 Presidential election. Negotiations continue as to how to strengthen enforcement of immigration at the U.S. southern border. According to an NPR poll, immigration is one of the issues that matters most to voters, specifically Independents and Republicans, ahead of the upcoming election. Based on the study, immigration is of the utmost concern for Republicans, whereas for Independents, the issue comes second to concerns for preserving democracy.
On January 17, President Biden convened Congressional Leadership, along with the Chairs and Ranking Members of respective committees, to discuss supplemental support for Ukraine and additional national security matters. To read more about President Biden’s meeting with Congressional Leadership on Ukraine and his National Security Supplemental, see here.
“The supplemental package is a national necessity, with critical aid to help Ukraine defeat Putin, help Israel combat Hamas, provide needed assistance to innocent civilians in Gaza, and fix our broken immigration system.” – U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) via Congressional Record Vol. 170, No. 3.
The path that these policy issues, among many others, will follow has a significant impact on the 2024 Presidential Election in November, making it more critical that lawmakers make positive changes with looming timeclocks to avoid a government shutdown and to elect preferred candidates.
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