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Falling for the H Street Festival

Hot Topics | September 24th, 2021

Last Saturday, the 16th annual H Street Festival took place in Washington, D.C.’s historic H Street Corridor neighborhood. The event features artwork across various mediums including visual art, music, dance, performance and poetry. From humble beginnings as a 500-person block party, the H Street Festival has grown 300-fold and now attracts 150,000 participants across 11 city blocks.

The festival has played a role in the neighborhood’s revitalization and economic growth. The core of H Street was hollowed out by the riots that followed Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968. The neighborhood struggled to rebound in the later decades of the 20th Century. However, the commercial vacancy rate in the neighborhood has plummeted from 75% to under 5% over the past few years.

Were you at the H Street Festival last weekend? If so, we hope you will find this week’s round up of public policy news as enjoyable as the festival:

Bring on the boosters

  • On Wednesday the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use as a booster shot in three groups of Americans: seniors aged 65 years and older, Americans aged 18 years and older who are at higher risk of developing a severe COVID-19 infection and workers who face an increased risk of infection in their workplace. (STAT, Roll Call, FDA Press Release) However, on Thursday, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee recommended against authorizing boosters for Americans who may be at increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 in their workplace. (STAT, The Hill) The panel’s recommendations were non-binding, and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky ultimately decided to recommend boosters for this group in alignment with the FDA. (NPR)

Preparing for a drug pricing jam-boree

  • Democratic leadership in the House is pork-barreling drug pricing legislation into the party’s $3.5 trillion spending package. The move is meant to put moderate Democrats in a jam, as it would be politically difficult to vote down the entire bill. The drug pricing policy in question is House Resolution 3 (H.R. 3), which would allow the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate the price of certain drugs on behalf of Medicare. H.R. 3 is designed to generate up to $700 billion in savings over 10 years, which would help pay for some of the Democrats’ top policy priorities. (POLITICO)
    • Read more: Meanwhile, on the other side of the Capitol, a Senate panel is expanding plans to penalize industry companies who raise drug prices faster than inflation.(STAT).

Testing, testing, 1-2-3

  • A shortage of COVID-19 rapid tests is threatening to undermine President Biden’s plan to deploy widespread testing as a means to curb the latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pricing could also be an issue, as the cheapest tests still cost at least $15 for a two-pack. The administration has largely been focused on vaccines, but experts are saying the government needs to invest more in testing as the pandemic enters its second winter. (Axios, The Hill)

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