WASHINGTON -- House Democrats in 2020 plan to pass legislation on top party priorities like health care, infrastructure and climate as well as more under-the-radar subjects like modernizing Congress and redistricting -- all while trying to fully fund the government on time for the first time in 24 years, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said.
The No. 2 Democrat, who is in charge of the floor schedule, outlined his legislative priorities for the year in an interview with CQ Roll Call. The aforementioned issues were among a long list that Hoyer said Democrats plan to pursue in the second session of the 116th Congress. Others the Maryland Democrat mentioned include education, taxes, the annual defense and intelligence authorizations, and reauthorizations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and National Flood Insurance Program.
Many of those issues, like health care and climate, will follow up on legislative efforts Democrats started last year as they took back the House majority.
"We got done what we said we were going to get done," Hoyer said. "I think we had a very successful year. Now, one successful year doesn't make a successful Congress. And we mentioned some of the things that we need to get done."
One thing Democrats still want to get done on health care is legislation on surprise billing, where patients are charged out-of-network prices for services they thought were in-network. The House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees have competing plans.
In the spending deal Congress passed in December, lawmakers only extended funding for several expiring health care programs through May 22 -- pressuring themselves to pass a comprehensive measure addressing surprise billing and prescription drug pricing by Memorial Day.
Hoyer said it's "possible" the House could act on surprise billing legislation before May but noted that leadership hasn't set a time frame. Democrats passed HR 3 in December to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, but they may have to follow up, he said.
The House will also pursue legislation to strengthen the 2010 health care law, Hoyer said.
"We've already passed bills on protecting preexisting conditions, but that was a very high priority for us, and we may do something else," he said.
Surprise billing, prescription drug prices and preexisting conditions are the "big" health care issues Democrats will be focused on this year, Hoyer said, but he also mentioned maternal mortality rates and youth vaping. He didn't rule out other topics, including reinsurance and subsidies to make health care more affordable.