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Gavel Down

GAVEL DOWN: Closing out the Week in Congress (Oct. 17-21, 2016)

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It may be recess, but there’s plenty going on…

Worldwide leaders agreed on landmark deal to counter climate change, but folks still aren’t sure if it requires ratification from the Senate. Major cures package is likely to come up during lame-duck session, and lawmakers are calling for investigations into prescription drug price increases.

HFCs deal   |  Medical Cures Legislation  |  Prescription Drug Prices  |  Congress Goes Home  |  Data Drop  |  Around the Capital  |  Around the Country  |  Around the World  


Worldwide leaders reach landmark HFCs deal,
whether Senate must ratify is still up in the air


Last week, negotiators from more than 170 countries reached a legally binding deal to counter climate change by reducing worldwide use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The international agreement falls under the Montreal Protocol, and it’s unclear whether the Senate will need to ratify the deal.

So what is the Montreal Protocol?
Well the long name is the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, and it’s an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of ozone depleting substances. It was agreed to in 1987 and has undergone eight revisions, including this most recent revision in Kigali, Rwanda.

What does the Senate have to do with treaties?
The Constitution gives the President the power to commit the United States to treaties, but only with the advice and consent of two-thirds of the Senate.

Wait, but the Senate didn’t ratify the Paris Climate Agreement?
True, and the distinction comes between what is “politically binding” versus “legally binding.”

So does the Senate need to ratify this new revision?
The jury’s still out! From agency officials to lawmakers to law experts, several parties are analyzing the pact and determining whether it requires ratification from the Senate.


House Democrats divided on Cures package,
expected to come up for vote during
upcoming lame-duck session


This week House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said House Democrats do not unanimously back the 21st Century Cures package, which is expected to come up for a vote during the upcoming lame-duck session.

The Cures package focuses on speeding up the development of medical treatments and cures. The House passed the bill by a vote of 344-77 last year, whereas the Senate passed several specific innovation bills. Now the chambers are working to reconcile differences amid disagreements over funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and changes to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) device approval pathways.
 

Read a comparison from the Congressional Research Service and use POPVOX to tell your lawmakers what you think!


Lawmakers continue to ask questions about drug price increases


You’ve heard about ongoing disputes between Congress and Mylan over EpiPen price increases. This week, Members of Congress asked other pharmaceutical companies about similar drug price increases.

Sens. Bernie Sanders [I, VT] and Elijah Cummings [D, MD] questioned ARIAD Pharmaceuticals about Iclusig, a drug used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia. The price of the drug has increased four times this year, amounting to an overall increase of 27%.  

Meanwhile, Rep. Dan Kildee [D, MI-5] wants Congress to investigate Valeant Pharmaceuticals' decision to increase the price of a drug used to treat lead poisoning. The list price of calcium disodium versenate has increased by roughly 2,700% since 2013.

There is a related bill pending in Congress that addresses high prescription drug costs. The Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015 (S. 2023 / H.R. 3513) would “empower Medicare to negotiate pharmaceutical prices, allow consumers to import cheaper drugs from Canada, and require companies to disclose the prices they charge overseas.”


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What were your lawmakers up to this week?

House Financial Services Ranking Member Maxine Waters called on federal regulators to release 2012 report on Wells Fargo

Reps. Fred Upton [R, MI-6] and Greg Walden [R, OR-2] questioned the independence of FCC Inspector General David Hunt.

Senate Finance Ranking Member Ron Wyden requested details on tax evasion through shell companies.

House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling said Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may not be independent after recent court ruling.

Sen. Tom Carper [D, MD] traveled to Mexico and Central America to discuss the root causes of migration the the United States.

Rep. Tom MacArthur [R, NJ-3] collected supplies to help people in North Carolina affected by the flood.

Sen. Chuck Schumer [D, NY] promoted his new bill to create first National Firefighter Cancer Registry. 

Rep. Alex Mooney [R, WV-2] met with Obama administration official and asked for closer look at the federal Stream Protection Rule.

Rep. Steve Israel [D, NY-3] celebrated 16 years in the House of Representatives.

Sen. Marco Rubio [R, FL] asked the Coast Guard to assess the safety of the jetty in Jose Fernandez boat crash.


#DataDrop


#ICYMI: Around the Capital


#ICYMI: Around the Country


#ICYMI: Around the World


Congress is back home working, and we're sending a recess version of Gavel Down — full of how current events relate to Congressional happenings, as well as updates on major legislation. Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system.

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