Senate's out; House talks on reforming entitlements continue

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On Tuesday, the full House Appropriations Committee takes up the spending bill for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This past week, the Agriculture subcommittee voted to cut the FDA’s budget by 11.5 percent, or roughly $285 million.

And on Thursday, the Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee holds a hearing on the healthcare reform law’s effects on health coverage and jobs. Witnesses have yet to be announced.

Meanwhile, the healthcare reform court saga continues Wednesday as the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals hears arguments in the case of four members of the Thomas More Law Center who say the law’s individual mandate violates their freedom. The Cincinnati court is the second court of appeals to hear oral arguments in a healthcare reform case, after the 4th Circuit in Richmond gave the law’s critics a frosty reception earlier this month.

The three-judge panel in Cincinnati is expected to be more divided: One was appointed by President George H.W. Bush and two by President Clinton, one of whom is a Republican. In a novel twist, the Obama administration argued Friday that the plaintiffs don’t have standing, especially since it turns out one of them had employer-sponsored coverage the whole time and presumably wouldn’t be penalized under the law’s mandate.

To cap the week, the Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure is next Saturday. The organization is still registering teams for its State of Pink Challenge, with Rep. Gerry Connolly’s (D-Va.) Cruisers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration currently fielding the most members.