Hello and happy #JetFumes Thursday!
The Senate is scheduled to vote to confirm a judicial nominee, and then they'll tee up cloture on another one, McFadden for DC. Then they will all get out of here.
The House is scheduled to vote on final passage of the Senate Budget Resolution, which I suggested yesterday is not guaranteed that it will pass. (Pete King is now saying that he and his caucus in the House have the votes to tank the Budget Resolution. I think if you're represented by an R in the House, now is a good time to call. This is particularly for members in NY and NJ -- encourage them to KEEP the State and Local Tax Deduction. That seems to be the sticking point here.) The Republicans can afford to lose 22 of their own, but that's it. I'll be keeping a close eye on the House floor today because, well, that's what I do.
It was just announced that the president will name the opioid crisis a "public health emergency", which is quickly being criticized because it's a much narrower classification that a presidential "national emergency". There are some important things that this declaration will NOT do:
- It will NOT unlock new federal funds to address opioid abuse. Whereas a "national emergency" would have suspended Medicaid regulations and opened up a huge swath of HHS money and power to deal with the crisis. Instead, the Administration says they'll work with Congress to get more funds in the end-of-year budget, which is already being seen as a contentious bill, likely to shutdown the government completely. The Administration also didn't put a number on what they want from Congress.
- The declaration will be up for renewal every 90 days. For a crisis that's been going on for over a decade, this seems pitifully insufficient.
What the order WILL DO:
- Expand access to telemedicine services. According to Axios, this will "allow people to make temporary appointments with specialists (among federal and state workers) who can be deployed to address the opioid crisis under this declaration in rural areas."
- DOL can issue grants to provide displaced workers with work opportunities (not entirely sure what this has to do with the opioid crisis, but okay).
- Certain HIV/AIDS programs will shift more substance abuse treatment to people eligible for these programs.
Overall, I think this is a wildly inadequate response to the biggest addiction crisis in history.
After facing serious backlash from mainland and PR officials, there will be an oversight official appointed to oversee the reconstruction of the Puerto Rican power grid by the small Montana company with links to the Trump campaign. TBD if there will be further action taken, but Dems in Congress want an investigation.
To give a bit of a glimpse into next week, here are some interesting upcoming hearings:
5pm Foreign Relations -- Hearings to examine the Authorizations for the Use of Military Force, focusing on Administration perspectives. Tillerson and Mattis will be witnesses.
2:30pm Judiciary -- Hearings to examine extremist content and Russian disinformation online, focusing on working with tech to find solutions -- folks from Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube will be there.