House Republican Leaders Seek To ‘Reenergize Bid’ To End Lame-Duck Session This Week
House Republican leaders plan to address a continuing resolution to fund government operations through Jan. 11, 2003, and a compromise homeland security bill in a "reenergized bid" to end the lame-duck session this week, CongressDaily/AM reports. Although House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said that House members would consider both bills today, a Republican leadership aide said that House lawmakers have not concluded negotiations with the White House and the Senate on "acceptable" language for the homeland security legislation (Ghent et al., CongressDaily/AM, 11/13). The House earlier this year passed a bill that would establish a Department of Homeland Security. The department would include parts of 22 federal entities. The CDC would play an important role in the department; the bill would expand and modernize the agency's Epidemic Intelligence Service to improve the nation's response to a bioterrorist attack. The bill has stalled in the Senate because some Democrats maintain that the legislation would reduce civil service protections and other rights for employees of the department (California Healthline, 11/8). The GOP leadership aide said that lawmakers may file new legislation today. "We're trying to build a package that could grow the vote and pass in both chambers," the aide said.
Hastert said that he decided to delay the appropriations process until the next Congress because of the "confused ... leadership situation" in the Senate, which has complicated negotiations, CongressDaily/AM reports (Ghent et al., CongressDaily/AM, 11/13). Democrats will control the Senate when the lame-duck session begins. Interim Sen. Dean Barkley (I-Minn.) -- whom Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura (I) appointed to fill the Senate seat left vacant last month by the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) -- said earlier this week that he will not caucus with Republicans or Democrats, which allows the Democrats to retain control of the Senate. However, control of the Senate will shift to Republicans when Sen.-elect Jim Talent (R-Mo.) -- who defeated Sen. Jean Carnahan (D-Mo.) in a special election and will take office after the election results are certified -- is seated (California Healthline, 11/12). "It's probably very difficult to get anything done in the other body right now," Hastert said. In the Senate, Democratic leadership aides said that senators may approve a continuing resolution and a compromise homeland security bill early next week. Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said that he will end the lame-duck session when he becomes majority leader (Ghent et al., CongressDaily/AM, 11/13).
In related news, physicians yesterday began "turning up the heat" on lawmakers to revise a Medicare formula that resulted in a 5.4% reduction in reimbursements this year and will likely result in a 4.4% reduction on Jan. 1, 2003. As part of the campaign, the American Medical Association yesterday published an advertisement in the Washington Post that read: "The election is over. The Medicare mistake isn't." California Medical Association officials yesterday also lobbied for revisions to the Medicare physician reimbursement formula. They said that 78% of California physicians plan to "limit or drop" Medicare beneficiaries when the next scheduled reduction in reimbursements takes effect (CongressDaily/AM, 11/13). Lawmakers had considered addressing a Medicare provider "giveback" bill during the lame-duck session, but it appears now that they will delay doing so until next year (California Healthline, 11/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.