By Chris Pirschel, Staff Writer, and Alec Stone, ONS Public Affairs Director
Congress Braces for High-Drama Lame Duck
Washington insiders weren’t surprised by the election’s outcome, and the next session of Congress will be something to watch in 2019. However, the current work of politics in a lame duck session can be interesting at best and potentially dangerous at worst. Members of Congress who lost their seats are now under no obligation to their districts, leadership, or party and often vote their conscience on late-session bills.
Seven final appropriations bills need to be completed, and more than 30 federal judicial appointments are still hanging in the balance—not to mention figuring out who will be the newest speaker of the House. Plenty are jockeying for position and the rewards that will follow. When the dust settles, insiders expect to see Congress act on a continuing resolution, the confirmation of most nominees to the bench, and Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) return as speaker. ONS will continue to advise policymakers as the end of this Congress looms and the next one approaches.
With Divided Congress, Healthcare Action Hightails It to the States
With a divided U.S. Congress, many are looking to the states to advance new policy efforts—including healthcare expansion. A number of state governor seats flipped in the midterm election, so issues like upholding state insurance exchanges, instituting work-related requirements for coverage, and expanding Medicaid will now have new eyes for review.
In several states, Medicaid expansion was on the winning ballot, and—regardless of a governor’s position—that expansion is now law. At the state level, things typically happen faster and with less fanfare, so organized groups can work the levers of government to greater effect. ONS is working with several coalitions on many issues at the states level. Learn more and become an ONS advocate in your own community.
Nurses—and a Nurse Champion—Win Congressional Seats in Midterm Election
Just a few years ago, Congress had seven nurses from different states and backgrounds, and now that number is down to three. Although fewer than before, nurses—and those who championing nursing—won key congressional seats in the 2018 midterm elections. A small, but highly engaged group, the newest member—and oldest freshman at 77—is Donna Shalala (D-FL), former secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services under Clinton and chair of the Institute of Medicine’s Report on the Future of Nursing.
Shalala and her nursing colleagues have great expectations that their caucus will take strides to promote and protect nursing education, research, and workforce issues. ONS has been working with Representative Karen Bass’s (D-CA) office for some time and has met with Representative-Elect Lauren Underwood (D-IL) on several issues. This could be a great time for nurses in the political arena, but it will require other nurses to step up and speak truth to power. Add your voice to the policy efforts that are important to your patients and your profession.