PT: Congress May Consider MH Legislation During Nov. 'Lame Duck' Session

NYAPRS Note: Congress will recess without considering a 2 house deal on mental health legislation, proposed respectively by Rep. Tim Murphy and Sen. Lamar Alexander (gaining more sponsors), although Politico reports that mental health legislation might be at the "top of the list for bills to be considered when Congress returns to Washington for a lame-duck session on Nov. 15." NYAPRS is backing the Alexander bill as is ( GOP Sees Minimal Lame-Duck Agenda By SUSAN FERRECHIO Washington Examiner September 29, 2016

Spending bills and legislation to boost advances in medicine appear to be among the few consensus items Congress will try to work on when lawmakers return after the Nov. 8 election.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. both agreed lawmakers should try group together fiscal 2017 spending bills into packages they can pass as "minibuses," rather than taking up one big "omnibus" spending bill.

But beyond spending legislation, not much else is likely to get done.

McConnell said it is unlikely the Senate will have time to consider a criminal justice reform measure, despite bipartisan support and a push from the House, where Ryan hopes to take up parts of the reform initiative in smaller bills.

"It's very divisive in our conference," McConnell said of the criminal justice legislation. "Whether we can take up something that controversial, with that limited time available, I doubt it."

Ryan said he is "hoping we can make progress" in the House on criminal justice reform legislation and pointed to a mental health reform bill sponsored by Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., which the House passed in July. But he agreed with McConnell that lawmakers aren't ready to take up a bigger reform bill.

"We do know we have more work to do to talk to our members about the merits of criminal justice reform," Ryan said, adding the leadership is going to "be communicating with them in the weeks ahead."

Congress is slated to return to a lame-duck session the week of Nov. 14 and lawmakers will immediately begin working on yet another spending bill, having passed a measure Wednesday that funds the government only through Dec. 9.

"We think minibuses are the proper strategy," Ryan told reporters Thursday. "We are not in favor of doing massive omnibuses."