Human Services

Federal Watchdog Advises HHS to Recoup Price’s Travel Expenses
20 of 21 trips failed to comply with requirements, OIG finds

Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A federal watchdog is recommending the Department of Health and Human Services recoup $341,000 associated with former Secretary Tom Price’s travel expenses.

The HHS Office of the Inspector General released Thursday an audit that found 20 of 21 trips Price and other HHS officials took during his time in office did not comply with federal requirements. Price, a hardline fiscal conservative during his time in Congress, resigned last September after it was revealed that he regularly chartered private planes for routine business trips.

$177.1 Billion Labor-HHS-Education Moves Forward With Family Separation Changes
House Appropriations has approved 11 of 12 fiscal 2019 spending measures

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., wants the Labor-HHS-Education bill linked to the Defense bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Appropriations Committee late Wednesday evening approved, 30-22, a $177.1 billion fiscal 2019 bill to fund the departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services.

The committee has now approved 11 of its 12 fiscal 2019 spending measures, following the marathon 13-hour markup of the massive nondefense bill that left lawmakers from both parties exasperated at various points. The debate covered family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border, gun research funding, abstinence-only sex education and thorny political issues around religious adoption agencies.

House Appropriators Back Indefinite Detention of Migrant Kids
DeLauro: ‘It creates a false choice: Either we take the kids away or we jail everyone together’

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, joined all the Appropriation Committee’s Republicans in backing language overturning the Flores agreement in a Wednesday markup. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the southern border dominated the first few hours of Wednesday’s House Appropriations Committee markup of a spending bill for the Labor, Education and Health and Human Services departments.

As of midafternoon, committee members had gotten through only eight of up to 50 expected amendments to the fiscal 2019 $177.1 billion spending measure.

Lankford: Reuniting Immigrant Families Is Complicated
Human traffickers and parents who aren’t ready to reunite with their children has made process more difficult

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said there are a number of complications for reuniting immigrant families. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As a California court deadline came and went Tuesday for the Trump administration to reunite 102 undocumented immigrant children under the age of 5 with their parents, Sen. James Lankford came to the administration’s defense after it did not fully meet the court’s demands.

Dozens of the children are still at temporary housing facilities as the Justice and Health and Human Services Departments vet those who have claimed to be the children’s parents through DNA tests, criminal background checks, and other means.

Kavanaugh’s Health Care Positions Hint at Future Abortion Views
Trump’s pick said 2010 health care law was a substantial burden on religious employers

Protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in June. President Donald Trump’s latest nominee to the court has the support of anti-abortion groups and could play a key role in attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The prior positions on health care cases by Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, hint at his potential future positions if confirmed to the court.

Kavanaugh, a conservative judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, has the support of anti-abortion groups and could play a key role in attempts to limit or overturn the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade case, as a number of abortion cases make their way through the lower courts. Roe v. Wade upheld the constitutional right to an abortion, with the court finding that a right to privacy extended to a woman’s right to an abortion.

Hospital Drug Discount Program Under Lawmakers’ Microscope
House panel to examine legislation Wednesday

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was to address a conference of hospitals participating in a drug discount program facing Congressional scrutiny. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A House panel that has been scrutinizing hospitals’ use of a drug discount program will examine on Wednesday pieces of legislation that stem from members’ concerns over the discounts.

The Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight panel has had two hearings in the past year on the program, known as 340B. The committee has requested information from hospitals that participate and in January published a report outlining ways the drug discount program could be better run.

Lawmakers Still Being Kept out of Facilities With Immigrant Children
Democrats and Republicans wonder if feds are hiding something

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif., is the latest lawmaker to be shut out from a tour of a facility holding undocumented immigrant children who were separated from their parents by the federal government. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers keep getting denied access to tour facilities holding undocumented immigrant children who have been separated from their parents, causing some to speculate whether the federal government is shielding the living conditions there from public scrutiny.

Most recently, Democratic Rep. Mark DeSaulnier was turned away Sunday from visiting a center in his district in Pleasant Hill, California, after previously receiving permission to tour the facility from an official in the Health and Human Services Department.

VA Weighs Lifting Exclusion on Gender Reassignment Surgery
Administration already fighting multiple lawsuits against its transgender policies

People demonstrate outside the Capitol in July 2017 to protest President Donald Trump’s rst ban on transgender Americans serving in the military. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Department of Veterans Affairs is considering removing an exclusion on medical coverage for transgender services as the Trump administration battles multiple lawsuits against its transgender policies.

The VA released a request for comment Friday in response to a 2016 petition it received under former President Barack Obama to allow coverage of sex reassignment surgery. The petitioners, Dee Fulcher, Giuliano Silva and Transgender Veterans of America, eventually sued the Trump administration in 2017 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The case is ongoing.

Ryan, Huizenga Quarrel Over Civility of Immigrant Separation Debate
Republican Huizenga takes offense at Democrat Ryan’s calling separation policy ‘state-sanctioned abuse’

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, had a spat with Rep. Bill Huizenga, D-Mich., over the rhetoric surrounding undocumented immigrant children separated from their families at the border. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Reps. Tim Ryan and Bill Huizenga had a brief spat at a news conference Thursday over the rhetoric surrounding undocumented immigrant children who have been separated from their parents.

Huizenga, a Michigan Republican, joined Ryan and two other Democrats on a visit to Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids, an organization providing room and board to some undocumented children.

Senate GOP Appropriators Stress Bipartisanship in Trump Meeting
‘If you want to keep this country strong, we’re going to have to make some trade-offs as Republicans’

Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., conduct a news conference in the Capitol. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Republican appropriators on Tuesday urged President Donald Trump to work with Democrats to enact spending bills before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, as long as sufficient resources are devoted to border security.

“If you want to keep this country strong, we’re going to have to make some trade-offs as Republicans,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said at the start of a meeting with Trump. “I’m willing to work with Democrats to get to ‘yes.’ But, ‘yes’ has to be consistent with being strong.”