The Senate did not pass President Biden’s Build Back Better bill, a $1.8 trillion funding package, which includes drug pricing reforms such as Medicare Part D benefit redesign, drug price negotiations, and inflation rebates. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who had hoped to pass the bill by Christmas, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) were unable to reconcile differences on spending for social programs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s outside advisers on vaccines recommended that adolescents ages 12 to 17 should get COVID-19 booster shots as the Omicron variant continues to sweep across the U.S.
The longest nurse strike in Massachusetts history ended on January 3 when nurses at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester voted to ratify a new contract. After this record-setting 303-day strike, nurses will return to their original positions.
In Washington, the Senate is expected to take up voting rights and filibuster reform. Senate Democrats are supporting the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would safeguard measures that make the ballot box more accessible to voters. The U.S. House of Representatives is back in session this week to kick off the 2nd Session of the 117th Congress.
Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins will be sworn-in on Monday as U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts. The U.S. Senate approved Rollins’ nomination on December 8. Governor Charlie Baker was responsible for appointing a new District Attorney to serve the remainder of Rollins’ term. He chose Kevin Hayden, Chair of the state’s Sex Offender Registry Board, to serve as DA for the remainder of 2022.
Municipalities across the state are issuing their own public health measures in the face of the current COVID-19 surge. Vaccine requirements to enter restaurants, gyms, and entertainment venues in Boston takes effect on Saturday, Jan. 15, in accordance with Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s new COVID-19 measures. The City of Cambridge updated their mask order to include common areas of residential, office, and laboratory buildings and issued temporary restrictions on City public meetings and indoor city events due to COVID-19. In Massachusetts, the mask mandate has been extended in K-12 public schools through the end of February. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is requiring COVID-19 booster vaccines for nursing home workers by February 28.
At the State House, several public hearings are taking place this week. On Tuesday, the Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management will hold an oversight hearing on the state’s response to the current surge, the Omicron variant, and plans around COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, and boosters. Governor Baker and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders are expected to testify. The Transportation Committee holds a public hearing on Monday on several pieces of legislation, including capital planning and tolling. On Tuesday, the Housing Committee holds a public hearing on tenant and landlord legislation. On Wednesday, legislators host a briefing on multiple sclerosis treatment.