February 7, 2020

Cassidy Year in Review, Legislative Accomplishments

WASHINGTON – The United States continues to benefit under Republican leadership in the White House and Senate. 2019 ended with the lowest U.S. national unemployment rate in history at 3.5 percent. Illegal border crossings dropped for six straight months following Republicans’ push to secure the southern border. The Senate has confirmed President Trump’s 187th conservative judicial nominee. Beyond these, U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), today released a list of his Top 25 Accomplishments in 2019.

Lowering the Cost of Health Care

Cassidy leads bipartisan/bicameral coalition to end surprise medical bills. All major proposals to end surprise medical bills adopted Cassidy’s independent dispute resolution framework allowing insurers and providers to sort out billing discrepancies while holding the patient harmless.

Cassidy’s Fair and Accurate Medicaid Pricing (AMP) Act passed Congress and was signed into law by President Trump. The bipartisan legislation closed a loophole in the Medicaid rebate program, which allowed big pharma companies to overcharge taxpayers. It will save the taxpayers approximately $3.1 billion over the next 10 years.

The Senate Health Committee passed a legislative package that included 14 provisions that Cassidy authored or led to lower the cost of prescription drugs, protect patients from surprise medical bills, increase price transparency in health care, improve public health, and protect the private data of patients. This package now awaits consideration on the full Senate floor. 

Cassidy Fights for Seniors’ Access to Affordable Drug Costs by voting for the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019 (PDPRA). The PDPRA helps to restore the balance between incentivizing new drug and returning true market forces to protect the interests of patients and taxpayers. The legislation contains several amendments written by Cassidy, including an amendment  that would direct the secretary to create a Star Ratings measure set based on Medicare patients’ access to biosimilars, to encourage competition and bring down drug prices. Another amendment ends retroactive Direct and Indirect Remuneration (DIR) fees and passes DIR through to patients at the point of sale, lowering patient out of pocket costs and giving certainty of charges to pharmacists.

Leading from the Front

At the beginning of the 116th Congress, Cassidy was recognized for his legislative leadership and named chairman of both the Senate Energy Subcommittee and the Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth Subcommittee.

Cassidy was named honorary co-chair of the Alliance for Health Policy due to his leadership on health care issues in Congress. The Alliance’s goal is to help policymakers and the public better understand health policy and address the root of the nation’s health care issues.

Honoring American Heroes

Cassidy introduced and passed bipartisan, bicameral legislation to award ALS champion and former New Orleans Saints star Steve Gleason with the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of his work through the Gleason Initiative Foundation to provide individuals with neuromuscular diseases or injuries with the assistance they need to thrive; his advocacy for federal legislation ensuring people living with diseases such as ALS have access to speech generating devices; and his leadership in bringing together the single largest coordinated and collaborative ALS research project in the world.

In a successful effort to support Gold Star Families, Congress passed Cassidy’s legislation providing tax relief for children who receive survivor benefits due to losing a parent serving in the military.

Preparing America’s Youth for Future Success

Cassidy introduced and passed Senate Resolution 389, recognizing October 2019 as “National Dyslexia Awareness Month.” The resolution calls attention to the fact that dyslexia is the most common learning disability, affecting 1-in-5 Americans and 80-90 percent of individuals with a learning disability. The resolution also reaffirms the importance of evidence-based screening and the definition of dyslexia, which Cassidy was successful at getting included in the First Step Act of 2018.

Joining Secretary Betsy DeVos and 14 other Republican Senators, Cassidy cosponsored the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act. The proposal would provide tax credits to businesses and individuals who donated to eligible scholarship granting organizations (SGOs). The SGOs would then use the donations collected to provide education scholarships for students to attend the school of their family’s choice.

The 31 Senate cosponsors of Cassidy’s College Transparency Act are double the amount of cosponsors the legislation received in the 115th Congress. Cassidy’s legislation will ensure students and families have the information necessary to make informed decisions about where to pursue a college education and what program to study.

Supporting Louisiana Families

Cassidy was recognized for his leadership in progressing solutions for working parents when he was named chairman of the bipartisan Senate Finance Committee working group that will consider the issue of federal family leave policyThis year and last Congress, Cassidy has been meeting with Senior Adviser to the President Ivanka Trump to plot the path forward on enacting paid family leave legislation.

Cassidy joined forces with Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema to introduce the first bipartisan and bicameral paid leave legislation that provides parents the resources they need to raise a family and pursue a career.

Cassidy successfully defended Louisiana homeowners by passing legislation to restore and clarify property rights for over private landowners near Lake Bistineau.

Disaster Relief, Mitigation, and Coastal Restoration

Cassidy spearheaded legislation to fix the Small Business Administration (SBA) loan duplication of benefits issue preventing Louisiana residents affected by flooding in 2016 from receiving Restore Louisiana Grants. However, despite the president signing this legislation into law, guidance needed to implement the fix was continually delayed. Cassidy placed holds on critical Housing and Urban Development (HUD) nominees and met with HUD Secretary Ben Carson, M.D. and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Russ Vought, demanding the release of the long-delayed guidance. Cassidy was successful in forcing HUD and OMB to release the needed guidance to fix duplication of benefits and help flood victims recover. 

Cassidy announced the release of $1.2 billion in flood mitigation funding for Louisiana. This was part of a larger flood mitigation package that Cassidy took a leading role in securing as part of the Balance Budget Act.

During record water levels on the Mississippi River, the opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway to relieve pressure on the adjacent levee system released hundreds of thousands of cubic feet per second of fresh water into Lake Pontchartrain. This inundation of fresh water into the brackish ecosystem devastated on inshore and nearshore aquatic ecosystems. Cassidy, along with the Louisiana congressional delegation contacted Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and secured a national emergency declaration to release needed resources to address the environmental impacts and harm to Louisiana’s seafood industry.

Cassidy helped secure funding for Comite River Diversion Canal Project, which broke ground last March. While the U.S. House of Representatives approved $10 billion for flood control projects in the Bipartisan Budget Act, Cassidy increased this amount to $15 billion in the U.S. Senate, thus ensuring there would be sufficient funding for the Comite Diversion and other projects in Louisiana. Cassidy met with the assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works and the New Orleans district commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to advocate for funding to construct the Comite River Diversion Project.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed Cassidy’s legislation to increase the royalties that Gulf states like Louisiana receive from offshore energy production. Cassidy’s COASTAL Act increases the percentage of revenue sharing under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) from a 37.5 percent share of energy produced in federal waters to 50 percent. That brings the offshore percentage in line with onshore energy production. Louisiana constitutionally dedicates revenues from offshore energy production to pay for conservation, restoration, and environmental projects to preserve and restore its coastline. 

Making our Country Safer

The National Association of Police Organizations endorsed Senator Cassidy’s legislation to disrupt criminal and terrorist organizations that use the illegal tobacco trade to fund their activities. The Combating the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products Act authorizes the executive branch to deny development and security assistance to countries that knowingly profit from the trade and to implement sanctions on the individuals responsible. 

Senator Cassidy introduces the Santa Act, a bipartisan bill which seeks to better inform consumers about the identity of the sellers of children products.  This bill seeks further transparency on information of third party sellers on marketplaces as a mechanism to keep consumer safe.  The language in this bill is aligned with the IP protection and anti-counterfeiting goals contained in Phase One of the Trump trade deal with China.

Cassidy legislation Ending Needles Delivery Subsidies (ENDS) Act enacted administratively by Trump Administration. The ENDS Act, introduced on April 10, 2018, requires the U.S. Secretary of State to negotiate with the United Nation’s Universal Postal Union (UPU) to end all subsidies, and prohibits new agreements that provide foreign shipments preferential pricing if the same treatment is not given to U.S. packages. In September 2019, the Trump Administration secured an agreement with the UPU that puts an end to U.S. taxpayers being forced to subsidize international postal shipments from foreign countries to the United States. The new agreement allows the United States to self-declare the rates the U.S. Postal Service can recoup from foreign trading partners. 

Supporting Louisiana Workers

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed Cassidy’s legislation to reduce long wait times for federal approval of energy infrastructure projects. A shortage of highly specialized engineers, scientists, and mathematicians tasked with reviewing construction applications at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has created a backlog of projects waiting to receive approval. Cassidy’s legislation improved the FERC’s ability to hire the qualified staff it needs to process project applications in a timely, effective manner. This will speed the extraction of energy commodities important to the Louisiana economy, such as liquefied natural gas.

Cassidy successfully blocked a package of Democrat-passed bills that would decimate the U.S. energy industry, strip states of future environmental protection funds, and threaten the environment by opening the door for foreign countries with worse environmental standards to take the lead in global energy production. H.R. 205, H.R. 1941 and H.R. 1146 would ban energy production in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. They would also deprive future funds from going to the  Land and Water Conservation Fund, Historic Preservation Fund and states that receive dollars under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, all of which fund projects to protect historic sites, the environment, and provide outdoor recreation access across the country. 

In a major victory for Louisiana shipbuilders and maritime workers, Cassidy secured commitment from President Trump to protect Jones Act, legislation requiring that goods shipped between U.S. ports be transported on ships that are built, owned, and operated by U.S. citizens or permanent residents. This is critical for our country’s national and economic security.