Committee on Energy and Commerce

Fred Upton

HEARING: #SubOversight Continues Work Examining Biodefense Programs NEXT WEEK

2016/02/05

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), has scheduled a hearing for Friday, February 12, 2016, at 9 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled, “Outbreaks, Attacks, and Accidents: Combatting Biological Threats.”

The subcommittee will hear testimony from members of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense and other experts on:

  • Current levels of preparedness for natural, intentional, and accidental biological events
  • The extent of our preparedness for a biological event
  • The need to modernize our approach to biodefense preparedness, including addressing the lack of leadership on the issue within the federal government
  • Other recommendations, including the need for improved surveillance, by the Blue Ribbon Study Panel that fall within the jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee

“We are reminded, on nearly a daily basis, that there are those who seek to do us harm through a variety of means, including biological attacks,” said Chairman Murphy. "These threats are ever-evolving, and our hearing will examine how prepared the federal government is to identify and respond to these threats as well as disease outbreaks, so that the American people can rest assured, knowing they are safe.”

Witnesses confirmed to testify:

The Honorable Donna ShalalaPanel MemberBlue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense

The Honorable James GreenwoodPanel MemberBlue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense

The Honorable Tara O’Toole, M.D., M.P.H.Senior Fellow and Executive Vice PresidentIn-Q-Tel

Gerald Parker, D.V.M., Ph.D., M.S.Associate Vice President, Public Health Preparedness and ResponseCenter for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing
Texas A&M University

A witness list is available here. The Majority Memorandum and witness testimony will be posted at the same link as they are available.

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Look Ahead: Committee Announces Hearing Schedule for the Week of February 8

2016/02/05

WASHINGTON, DC – The House Committee on Energy and Commerce today announced its hearing schedule for the week of February 8.

On Wednesday, the Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing examining Medicaid and CHIP’s Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP). The federal government’s share of most Medicaid expenditures is determined by the FMAP rate. It varies by state and is determined by a formula set in statute that compares each state’s per capita income to the U.S. per capita income. Members will have an opportunity to review and discuss how the FMAP operates, the variety of FMAPs, incentives and disincentives the FMAP creates for states, and how modifications to the FMAP could improve Medicaid spending predictability, accountability, A witness list and witness testimony is available here. The Majority Memorandum will be posted at the same link as it is available.

Also on Wednesday, the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade will hold a hearing entitled, “Industry Perspectives on the Consumer Product Safety Commission.” This hearing continues the subcommittee’s oversight of the CPSC and will assist members in evaluating the commission’s forthcoming fiscal year 2017 budget request. Members will hear from representatives of industries regulated by the commission to better understand the development of voluntary standards, rules, compliance processes, and if there are any regulatory overlaps or duplications that need to be addressed. Majority Memorandum, witness list, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.

On Friday, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing entitled, “Outbreaks, Attacks, and Accidents: Combating Biological Threats.” This investigative hearing will hear from members of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense and other experts on: current levels of preparedness for natural, intentional, and accidental biological events; the extent of our preparedness for a biological event; the need to modernize our approach to biodefense preparedness, including addressing the lack of leadership on the issue within the federal government; and other recommendations, including the need for improved surveillance. The Majority Memorandum, witness list, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.

Hearing Details

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

10 AM2123 Rayburn HOBSubcommittee on HealthHearing on “Examining Medicaid and CHIP’s Federal Medical Assistance Percentage”

10:15 AM2322 Rayburn HOBSubcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, TradeHearing on “Industry Perspectives on the Consumer Product Safety Commission”

Friday, February 12, 2016

9 AM2123 Rayburn HOBSubcommittee on Oversight and InvestigationsHearing on “­­­­­ Outbreaks, Attacks, and Accidents: Combating Biological Threats”

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The Safe Drinking Water Act Improved Compliance Awareness Act

2016/02/05

The Safe Drinking Water Act Improved Compliance Awareness Act

Authored by Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) & Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI)

Background:

This bipartisan bill ensures that the public will learn of excessive lead levels in drinking water by setting forth how and when states, EPA, and drinking water utilities must communicate their findings. 

H.R. 4470 would:

  • Require public notification when enforceable requirements for lead in drinking water are exceeded.
    • Public water systems must notify their consumers if the lead action level is exceeded in their drinking water system.
    • When a lead action level is exceeded for the 90th percentile of a public water system’s customers, (causing significant potential for adverse health consequences) EPA must quickly notify the public if the state or local drinking water system fails to do so.
  • Require EPA to create a strategic plan for handling and improving information flow between drinking water utilities, the states, EPA, and affected drinking water consumers when there is an enforceable lead exceedance in drinking water.
  • Ensure all levels of government communicate with each other.
  • Require consumer notification when water being transported in a lead pipe is sufficiently corrosive that it could leach lead into public drinking water.
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Upton and Pitts Seek Feedback from Health Care Community on Site-Neutral Medicare Payment Policies

2016/02/05

WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Health Subcommittee Chairman Joseph Pitts (R-PA) today solicited input from members of the health care community on policy changes regarding site-neutral payments, including changes made to certain Medicare hospital reimbursements on a prospective basis (under Section 603 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015). As the committee with primary jurisdiction on this issue, the leaders are requesting feedback on policies which would potentially amend or expand the site-neutral provision included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.

In the letter to the health care community, Upton and Pitts write, “Given the wide breadth of suggestions, ideas, concerns and proposals shared with the Committee on this issue, we are inviting all interested members of the health care community to provide formal feedback on policies the Committee should examine in the context of both the enactment of this provision of law, as well as other changes to site-neutral payment policies.”

The leaders also asked for proposals on how to pay for those suggestions which would lead to an increase in cost for beneficiaries. They continued, “If changes are suggested that would represent an increase in cost to beneficiaries or the Medicare program, in the interest of serving patients, beneficiaries, and taxpayers, we would hope you would also suggest additional policies or payment reforms which would ensure changes are at least budget-neutral, or which would ideally further the solvency of the Medicare program.”

Read the full letter online here.  

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Upton and Walden Press FCC on Lack of Consistent Reporting on Broadband Competition

2016/02/05

WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) today wrote to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler concerned with the commission’s reporting on broadband deployment, video competition, and mobile wireless competition. The leaders are concerned that the lack of consistent reporting has “been used to justify commission actions to intervene in seemingly competitive markets.”

Regarding the commission’s reports on deployment of advanced telecommunications and mobile wireless services, Upton and Walden write, “Since 2011, it appears that the commission has applied inconsistent definitions and analyses in making those determinations. Those reports have then been used to justify commission actions to intervene in seemingly competitive markets. Despite the plain language of the Communications Act, the FCC’s actions seem to benefit specific classes of competitors and do not promote competition. This behavior concerns us.’”

The leaders also questioned the commission’s ever-changing definition of advanced telecommunications services. They continued,  “Instead of uniformity of definition, the commission has instead made broadband speed a variable in the regulatory equation. This represents the latest in series of troubling actions that distort – or outright ignore – the FCC’s requirements to produce honest, data-driven reports to inform policymakers and the public.”

Upton and Walden posed a number of questions about the commission’s “decision-making and the impact of the FCC’s shifting definitions of broadband and effective competition” and requested a response by February 19, 2016.

Read the full letter online HERE.

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Upton & Pallone Announce Intent to Hold Bipartisan Hearing on Flint Drinking Water Crisis

2016/02/05

WASHINGTON, DC – Bipartisan leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee today announced their intention to hold a hearing in March to examine issues related to the ongoing drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Building on the information the committee has been collecting from EPA and the state of Michigan, the committee will seek to gain a comprehensive understanding of the short-and long-term implications of this crisis to the public health and environment.

To date, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) have sent letters to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality demanding further information regarding the urgent drinking water crisis and Chairman Upton and Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) recently introduced the bipartisan Safe Drinking Water Act Improved Compliance Awareness Act.

Upton and Pallone stated, “The situation in Flint, Michigan, is unacceptable at all levels and we still have a lot to learn. Next month’s hearing seeks to build a better understanding of what we can do to ensure that a crisis of these proportions never happens again, as well as what needs to be done to address the public health and water infrastructure issues in Flint.”

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#SubHealth Reviews Biosimilars

2016/02/04

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-PA), today held a legislative hearing entitled, “Examining Implementation of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act.” The hearing provided an opportunity to get an update on the regulation and approval of biosimilars from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as an update on the reimbursement policy recently outlined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The subcommittee explored the various ways that differentiate biosimilars and their regulation. Members raised concerns that these unique qualities were not properly considered by CMS, and that the existing payment policy could negatively impact future biosimilars entering the market or ultimately limit beneficiary access and program savings.

Building on these concerns, when Chairman Emeritus Joe Barton (R-TX) asked Sean Cavanaugh, Deputy Administrator and Director of CMS’ Center of Medicare, if the agency has plans to revisit how these drugs are priced, Cavanaugh remarked that they will be monitoring the market closely and rulemaking could be possible in the future (watch here).

Enacted in 2010, the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act established a new, abbreviated approval pathway at the FDA for biological products determined to be “biosimilar” to or “interchangeable” with a previously FDA-licensed product. In 2012, the first Biosimilar User Fee Act was enacted to support FDA’s work related to the development, review, and approval of these products. FDA has issued several guidance documents on certain key policy considerations, and in March 2015 the agency approved the first biosimilar. In preparation for biosimilars entering the market, CMS published final rules setting the stage for how the Medicare program will reimburse for biosimilar products.

For more information on these bills, copies of witness testimony, and to view an archived video of today’s hearing, click here.

 

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Ripped from the Onion? Obama Proposes $10 Per Barrel Oil Tax

2016/02/04

WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY), and Chairman Emeritus Joe Barton (R-TX) expressed disbelief after the Obama administration unveiled a proposal to place a $10-per-barrel tax on oil.

Upon learning of the proposal, Chairman Upton commented, “Good grief. The president’s proposed new tax will hurt those most vulnerable. Jump starting the economy by raising taxes is not a solution that will fly in the Republican Congress.”

Rep. Barton added, “The unbelievable audacity of President Obama to propose what equates to a new 30 percent tax on oil is dumbfounding. This is not a path forward for clean energy – it is a budget killing tax on hard working American families. For me, this budget proposal is a non-starter and indicates a lack of sincerity on the part of the administration.”

Chairman Whitfield concluded, ““Days before the President’s budget is set to be released, his administration dangles a reckless $32 billion plan that pushes his green climate agenda at the expense of American consumers. This reckless ‘vision’ would more than double the federal gasoline tax at a time when Americans can least afford it.”

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ELLMERS: NFL Legend, 6-Year-Old Superfan Highlight Why Congress Must #KeepPounding for #CuresNow

2016/02/04

Legacy of Carolina Legend Sam Mills Inspires Super Bowl-bound Panthers

Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) spoke on the House floor Tuesday afternoon to tell the story of former Carolina Panther Sam Mills, the inspiration behind the Super Bowl-bound Carolina Panthers’ #KeepPounding motto. Mills, a five-time Pro Bowl player, was a member of the original Panthers team and later served as a linebackers coach. During Carolina’s fairy tale run to the Super Bowl in 2004, Mills was battling intestinal cancer. On the eve of their first playoff game, Mills addressed the team. According to ESPN:

He spoke of how doctors diagnosed him with intestinal cancer hours before he showed up to coach the linebackers in the 2003 preseason finale and that he was given only three months to live.

He told the Panthers that they became his inspiration to fight the tough days of chemotherapy treatments when, on Sept. 14 of that season, they blocked an extra point on the final play of regulation to send a sure loss against Tampa Bay into overtime, where they won.

He told them, in his powerful but soft-spoken voice, to keep pounding. "When I found out I had cancer, there were two things I could do: quit or keep pounding," Mills said that day. "I'm a fighter. I kept pounding. You're fighters, too. Keep pounding!"

Sadly, Mills passed away in April 2005 at the age of 45.

“Even when Sam Mills was diagnosed with colon cancer and undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments, he kept pounding,” said Ellmers while speaking on the House floor. “Now this phrase is used to inspire players and to remind the team to keep fighting—even when they are feeling weak or run down. Just as the Panthers keep pounding all the way to the Super Bowl, the Energy and Commerce Committee keeps pounding in a bipartisan manner to discover cures and fund research for many of the rare cancers and diseases in existence today.”

Ellmers also highlighted 6-year-old Panther superfan Braylon Beam, who has been battling brain cancer. Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Beam signed a one-day-contract with the Panthers last June. At the time, her presciently declared, "They're going to win the Super Bowl this year." We’ll find out Sunday if Braylon’s bold prediction comes true. Braylon Beam and his courageous fight against brain cancer continue to inspire all who know him.

For Sam Mills. For Braylon Beam. We must #KeepPounding for #CuresNow.

Learn more about H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act, and the effort to deliver #CuresNow here.

Watch Ellmers’ floor speech HERE  

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Upton & Pallone Demand Further Information From EPA & State of Michigan On Flint Water Crisis

2016/02/03

WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) today sent two separate letters to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy and Keith Creagh, Director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), demanding further information regarding the urgent drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The letters follow up on two bipartisan briefings that committee staff had with EPA’s Office of Water and come on the heels of EPA’s increased direct involvement following its January 21 administrative order.

The letter to EPA contains nine questions to obtain information to understand and evaluate current efforts to respond to and resolve the situation, and to identify critical factors that contributed to the crisis. The letter to MDEQ contains a similar series of eight questions requesting further information on the state’s role in the crisis and their response.

Among the questions posed to EPA are the following:

  •  Describe the current and anticipated specific roles and responsibilities for federal, state, and city authorities in responding to the Flint water emergency. Please include in this response the identification of the lead EPA officials, and their offices and other federal agency officials and their offices working with EPA on the response and providing technical assistance.
  • Provide an estimate of the timing for corrosion control to provide sufficient coatings on service lines to reduce lead in the drinking water to safe levels, as well as any reasonably anticipated factors that could affect this timeline and the effectiveness of this approach. 
  • Has the EPA reduced or ceased to perform compliance verification activities, such as sampling or audits, under the Safe Drinking Water Act?  In the wake of the drinking water crisis in Flint, does EPA intend to restore any reductions in compliance verification of public drinking water systems? To the extent budgetary limitations have affected EPA’s enforcement capabilities, what resources are necessary for EPA to fully implement Safe Drinking Water Act compliance verification activities?

Among the questions posed to MDEQ are the following:

  • EPA’s January 21, 2016, Emergency Order details several required actions by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the City of Flint.  Has MDEQ or Flint’s Public Water System provided the information requested by the EPA Flint Task Force in November to the EPA?  If not, when does MDEQ anticipate providing a response to this request as required in paragraph 52 of EPA’s January 21, 2016, order?
  • Please provide copies of all briefing materials prepared by MDEQ personnel for federal, state, and local officials from January 2013 through February 2016 relating to the Flint drinking water system, including the decision to use the Flint River as a drinking water source.
  • If EPA performed a compliance audit of Flint, Michigan’s drinking water system under the Safe Drinking Water Act:
    • When did such a compliance audit last occur?
    • What actions, if any, did MDEQ undertake in response to EPA’s review?

To read the letter to EPA, click here.

To read the letter to MDEQ, click here.

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Contact Information

2125 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-2927
Fax 202-225-1919
energycommerce.house.gov


Membership

Joe Barton

TEXAS' 6th DISTRICT

Gus Bilirakis

FLORIDA's 12th DISTRICT

Marsha Blackburn

TENNESSEE's 7th DISTRICT

Susan Brooks

INDIANA's 5th DISTRICT

Larry Bucshon

INDIANA's 8th DISTRICT

Michael Burgess

TEXAS' 26th DISTRICT

Chris Collins

NEW YORK's 27th DISTRICT

Kevin Cramer

NORTH DAKOTA

Renee Ellmers

NORTH CAROLINA's 2nd DISTRICT

Bill Flores

TEXAS' 17th DISTRICT

Morgan Griffith

VIRGINIA's 9th DISTRICT

Brett Guthrie

KENTUCKY's 2nd DISTRICT

Gregg Harper

MISSISSIPPI's 3rd DISTRICT

Richard Hudson

NORTH CAROLINA's 8th DISTRICT

Bill Johnson

OHIO's 6th DISTRICT

Adam Kinzinger

ILLINOIS' 16th DISTRICT

Leonard Lance

NEW JERSEY's 7th DISTRICT

Bob Latta

OHIO's 5th DISTRICT

Billy Long

MISSOURI's 7th DISTRICT

David McKinley

WEST VIRGINIA's 1st DISTRICT

Cathy McMorris Rodgers

WASHINGTON's 5th DISTRICT

Markwayne Mullin

OKLAHOMA's 2nd DISTRICT

Tim Murphy

PENNSYLVANIA's 18th DISTRICT

Pete Olson

TEXAS' 22nd DISTRICT

Joe Pitts

PENNSYLVANIA's 16th DISTRICT

Mike Pompeo

KANSAS' 4th DISTRICT

Steve Scalise

LOUISIANA's 1st DISTRICT

John Shimkus

ILLINOIS' 15th DISTRICT

Fred Upton

MICHIGAN's 6th DISTRICT

Greg Walden

OREGON's 2nd DISTRICT

Ed Whitfield

KENTUCKY's 1st DISTRICT

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