This week in Washington: House in recess, Senate continues to debate bipartisan infrastructure bill, Senate to pass a budget resolution with reconciliation instructions before they leave for recess.


Bicameral Legislation to Update Food Labeling Introduced
On Aug. 4, Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ed Markey (D-MA) reintroduced the Food Labeling Modernization Act in both the House and Senate. The bills would update front-of-package food labeling requirements, update ingredient lists on packaged foods and apply consumer-friendly labeling requirements. The bill was previously introduced in 2018 but was not taken up by the Energy and Commerce Committee. The bill text can be found here.


Senate Appropriations Committee Passes Funding Bill on to the Senate Floor
On Aug. 4, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 25-5 to send the fiscal year (FY) 2022 funding bill to the Senate floor. The bill would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) $3.41 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of $200 million from FY 2021 levels.

Bill to Expand Substance Use Treatment in Jails and Prisons Passes Senate
On Aug. 3, the Senate passed the bipartisan Residential Substance Use Disorder Treatment Act of 2021. The bill was introduced by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and John Cornyn (R-TX) and would expand access to substance use treatment in jails and prisons. The bill was cosponsored by Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), James Lankford (R-OK) and Tim Scott (R-SC). The bill text can be found here.

Senators Encourage Leadership to Include Provisions from the Medicaid Saves Lives Act in Reconciliation Package
On Aug. 3, a group of 30 senators led by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Jon Ossoff (D-GA) wrote to congressional leadership to emphasize the need to include the federally funded program detailed in the Medicaid Saves Lives Act (H.R. 4595 and S. 2315) in the upcoming reconciliation package. The Medicare Saves Lives Act was introduced earlier in July and would create a Medicaid-like program to provide health care to the more than 4 million Americans currently denied health insurance through Medicaid due to where they live. The letter can be found here.

Sens. Wyden and Crapo Request Input on Mental Healthcare
On Aug. 5, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Finance Committee ranking member Mike Crapo (R-ID) wrote a letter to their fellow committee members requesting input on matters related to mental healthcare. In the letter, Sens. Wyden and Crapo welcome input on how to improve the behavioral health workforce, support care integration, achieve parity and improve telehealth, and ask that proposals be submitted prior to Aug. 31. The letter states that a separate request for public- and private-sector input will be announced later this month. The letter can be found here.

Read more on healthcare policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.