House Committee on Energy and Commerce: “How Governors are Battling the COVID-19 Pandemic”
Tuesday, June 2, 2020: The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing to cover how state governors are addressing the current coronavirus pandemic. The panel of witnesses includes the governors from Colorado, Michigan and Arkansas. Find more details on the hearing here.

Why this is important: Subcommittee Chair Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) called on the Trump administration to encourage testing in all states and criticized the administration for not improving the testing supply in the past. House Democrats have repeatedly criticized the Trump administration for not doing enough to give adequate testing supplies to states, as well as for what they say is a lack of supply chain transparency.

Senate Finance Committee: “COVID-19 and Beyond: Oversight of the FDA’s Foreign Drug Manufacturing Inspection Process”
Tuesday, June 2, 2020: The Senate Finance full committee held a hearing on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the FDA’s foreign drug manufacturing inspection process. Find more details on the hearing here.

Why this is important: Appearing before committee, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) health care director Mary Denigan-Macauley criticized the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) oversight of foreign drug manufacturing, including the FDA’s practice of notifying overseas drug manufacturers in advance of inspections, despite U.S. pharmaceutical companies’ not receiving the same prior warnings. Judith McMeekin, the associate commissioner for regulatory affairs at the FDA, addressed the concerns by saying the agency has conducted more inspections of foreign drug manufacturers than U.S. pharmaceutical companies annually since 2015.

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP): “COVID-19: Going Back to College Safely”
Thursday, June 4, 2020: The Senate HELP committee held a hearing on preparing Americans to go back to college during the COVID-19 pandemic. Find more details on the hearing here.

Why this is important: The purpose of the hearing was to explore the current challenges and implications of decisions that leaders of institutions of higher education are making as they develop plans to safely reopen colleges and universities this fall. The committee was interested in hearing recommendations for how colleges and universities could effectively coordinate with state and local public health officials and take into consideration the needs of all students when reopening in August. 


House Democrats Seek Information on COVID-19 Vaccine Contracts
On June 2, Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), the chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), the chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services requesting the COVID-19 vaccine research contracts with the private sector. The letter sked if the contracts that fund the development of a potential coronavirus vaccine include provisions to ensure the vaccines or therapeutics are affordable. It also claims that HHS has shared only limited information to date with Congress, with government websites listing a subset of contracts with the private sector, but not disclosing the terms, such as the allocation of any intellectual property rights between the government and private companies. Find the full letter here.


Senate Passes Revisions to Small-Business Program, President Trump Signs
On June 3, the Senate unanimously approved the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act to relax rules under the $670 billion Paycheck Protection Program, giving borrowers more time to spend the money and use it on a broader set of expenses while still qualifying to have the loans forgiven, a key feature offered in exchange for employers’ maintaining payrolls. On June 5, President Trump signed the revisions into law. The House last week passed the bill in a 417-1 vote.

Read more in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.