The Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, chaired by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday, July 8, at 10:00 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled, “Internet Governance Progress After ICANN 53.”
Continuing their oversight of the administration’s work to transition key Internet functions from the United States to the multistakeholder community, members will hear from NTIA Administrator Larry Strickling and Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers CEO Fadi Chehade and discuss the status of transition efforts following the recently concluded ICANN meeting. The meeting – which included representatives from the international Internet community – continued efforts to reach agreement on the terms of the transition plan proposal and changes to ICANN’s bylaws that would be necessary to ensure ICANN is accountable to the Internet community at-large. ICANN is a non-profit corporation based in the United States.
Last week, the House overwhelmingly approved bipartisan legislation to ensure congressional oversight over any proposed transition. Authored by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), the DOTCOM Act requires that the administration certify that safeguards and accountability measures are in place prior to any transition of stewardship of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority and provides 30 legislative days for Congress to review the plan. Companion legislation to the DOTCOM Act was also approved last week by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
“Oversight and transparency are necessary parts of any proposed transition of IANA stewardship to the multi-stakeholder Internet community,” said Walden. “The House has spoken to ensure our oversight occurs before any transition is finalized. We will do our part to ensure this work stays on track and that any transition proposal preserves the open and robust internet free from international government control.”
The Majority Memorandum, a witness list, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.
An Inside Look Through the Lens of the Energy and Commerce Committee from June 2015
Photographers wait for Dr. Mark R. Rosekind, Administrator at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to give his testimony on the Takata airbag recall in front of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade on June 2, 2015.
Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz appears before the Subcommittee on Energy and Power June 2, 2015 to discuss the Quadrennial Energy Review.
Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) announces passage of H.R. 2576, The TSCA Modernization Act of 2015, during a full committee markup on June 3, 2015. The U.S. House of Representatives later advanced H.R. 2576 with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 398 to 1.
Subcommittee on Health Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) meets with cancer-survivor Ian Lock, a volunteer with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network during the #Cures2015 Press Conference on June 16, 2015.
Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) urges passage of H.R. 2042, The Ratepayer Protection Act, at a press conference on June 24, 2015. The U.S. House of Representatives later advanced H.R 2042 with a bipartisan vote of 247-180.
WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee members today sent a letter to the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting a review of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) budget development process and fee collection determination as part of the committee’s ongoing oversight to ensure efficient NRC operations and to increase agency accountability. In February, NRC staff reported that they received feedback from stakeholders that stated NRC’s process for setting fees is “opaque and difficult to understand.”
In the letter to GAO, Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) write, “NRC licensees and stakeholders have raised concerns about whether the level of fees that the NRC assesses to applicants and licensees is justified. The NRC staff also reported that the agency’s budget process has often led it to request more resources from Congress than have actually been needed in the execution year, and recommended that NRC clearly define and justify the overhead costs in a budget.”
In 2014, annual fees increased 8 percent and overhead as a percentage of the NRC’s budget grew from 28 percent to 47 percent from 2004-2014.
To view the letter, click here.
Upton & DeGette’s #RoadTrip4Cures Has People Talking
“DeGette, a Democrat, and Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan passed the 21st Century Cures Act unanimously out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee this month,” the Denver Post reports. “The politically odd couple spoke on a panel Saturday with former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg at the Aspen Ideas Festival and were promoting the bill on a media tour in Denver Monday.”
“The American people support more research,” Upton told the Post’s editorial writers. “No family is untouched...”
Health care organizations, Upton, and DeGette shared their Colorado #Cures2015 photos on Twitter:
June 29, 2015
DeGette: 21st Century Cures Act for research, FDA possible this year
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver hopes her healthcare and research bill can harness 21st century technology to speed the process of finding cures and approving medicine and devices that save lives and ease suffering.
DeGette, a Democrat, and Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan passed the 21st Century Cures Act unanimously out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee this month. The legislation already has 230 sponsors, and needs only 218 votes on the floor to pass the House. DeGette and Upton hope to get at least 350 votes out of a possible 434 before the bill advances to the Senate, they told The Denver Post Editorial Board Monday morning.
“We want over 300 to send a strong message to the Senate,” DeGette said.
A floor vote in the House could come as early as next week, and Upton and DeGette hope to deliver a bill for President Obama to sign by the end of the year.
The politically odd couple spoke on a panel Saturday with former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg at the Aspen Ideas Festival and were promoting the bill on a media tour in Denver Monday.
The act includes at least $10 billion in mandatory spending, as well as 3 percent increase to the annual budget of the National Institutes of Health. The NIH budget has been stagnant for years, impeding the research and slowing the FDA’s approval of new drugs and medical devices, say advocacy groups who support the 21st Century Cures Act.
The spending would come with offsets, so as not to increase the federal debt, said Upton, a fiscal conservative who worked in the Reagan administration in the Office of Management and Budget.
The legislation includes broad bipartisan support, from Charlie Rangel to the Republican revolution leader Newt Gingrich. Colorado’s senators, Republican Cory Gardner of Yuma and Democrat Michael Bennet of Denver, are in support.
“The American people support more research,” Upton told the Post’s editorial writers. “No family is untouched. In my own family, my wife has lupus, my mom is a cancer survivor and my dad has diabetes.”
Read the article online HERE.
Support for 21st Century Cures has continued to grow over the past several weeks and months with letters and op-eds from groups and papers across the country. Health leaders from Indiana University recently explained in The Indianapolis Star how H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act, will make a real difference in the lives of their scientists, and ultimately of all Americans. “When they have the time and resources, our scientists make discoveries that make a difference. Just a few years ago, IU School of Medicine researchers discovered the first effective treatment for one of the most common genetic disorders, one that leaves children fighting disfiguring, and sometimes life-threatening, tumors. Now children from all over the country are being treated for that disease at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.”
“Much has been made of reports of partisan gridlock in Congress in recent years, but the 21st Century Cures Act demonstrates that with good-faith fact-gathering and bipartisan cooperation, important work can be accomplished.”
Learn more about 21st Century Cures online HERE.
June 28, 2015
Support Investment in Medical Research
By Jay Hess, M.D., Vice President for University Clinical Affairs and Indiana University and Dean of IU School of Medicine, and Dan Evans, President and Chief Executive Officer, Indiana University Health
There is good news out of Washington, D.C., for everyone who believes that we need to strengthen our investments in research to ensure that the United States remains the world's leader in biomedical research and health-care discovery.
In May, a bipartisan initiative meant to build that strength — the 21st Century Cures Act — won the unanimous support of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, sending it to the full House for a vote.
The bill includes several important initiatives to promote research and speed the spread of innovation, with key provisions that would boost funding for the National Institutes of Health.
As the leaders of the Indiana University School of Medicine and Indiana University Health, we are urging widespread bipartisan support for this proposal. Indeed, two Energy and Commerce Committee members from Indiana, Larry Bucshon and Susan Brooks, have already made their support clear. Rep. Jackie Walorski and Rep. Luke Messer have also signed on as cosponsors and we hope the rest of the Hoosier delegation will do the same.
The 21st Century Cures Act would authorize $1.5 billion annual additions to the NIH's budget for three years, but more importantly it would create a new NIH Innovation Fund of $2 billion per year over five years. Why is the Innovation Fund so important? It would be funded outside the normal budgeting process, making it less susceptible to the cuts we've seen recently from partisan budget battles and sequesters.
Why does this matter? For more than a decade, the pace of scientific change has grown dramatically, but funding to support it has not. In fact, after adjusting for inflation the NIH annual budget, now at about $31 billion, buys $5 billion less research than it did a decade ago.
In 2000, scientists announced they had deciphered the human genome, the genetic blueprint written in our DNA. Now, 15 years later, we stand at the edge of an exciting new era of precision medicine, in which a person's genetic makeup will enable doctors to determine precisely which drug will best attack individual cancer cells, best lower blood pressure or best treat heart disease.
These advances will come more slowly, or perhaps not at all, if we fail to support research adequately. We want our scientists working on new discoveries, not spending their time on one grant proposal after another, hoping their next one will be among the 10 percent or so of all NIH grant proposals that are actually approved currently.
When they have the time and resources, our scientists make discoveries that make a difference. Just a few years ago, IU School of Medicine researchers discovered the first effective treatment for one of the most common genetic disorders, one that leaves children fighting disfiguring, and sometimes life-threatening, tumors. Now children from all over the country are being treated for that disease at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.
Much has been made of reports of partisan gridlock in Congress in recent years, but the 21st Century Cures Act demonstrates that with good-faith fact-gathering and bipartisan cooperation, important work can be accomplished. We applaud the efforts of Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Diana DeGette, D-Colo., for their work on this bill.
We hope you'll join us in urging support for this important legislation.
Jay L. Hess, M.D.
Vice President for University Clinical Affairs, Indiana University
Dean, IU School of Medicine
President and Chief Executive Officer, Indiana University Health
Read the complete piece online HERE.
New Developments in the Medical World Show Promise of 21st Century Cures
“In the 21st century, health care innovation is happening at lightening speed. We’ve seen constant breakthroughs that are changing the face of disease treatment, management, and certainly cures.” Those were the words of Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) as he and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) launched the 21st Century Cures initiative last year. H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act, seeks to unleash the promise of science and technology to help deliver more targeted, faster cures and therapies to patients.
Both The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post this past weekend reported on some exciting advances demonstrating the incredible promise of health care today.
“A new technology for ‘editing’ defective genes has raised hopes for a future generation of medicines treating intractable diseases like cancer, cystic fibrosis and sickle-cell anemia,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “Such drugs could home in on a specific gene causing a disease, then snip it out and, if necessary, replace it with a healthy segment of DNA.”
The Washington Post reports on IBM’s computer brain working alongside doctors to help treat cancer patients. “The idea is to use Watson’s increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence to find personalized treatments for every cancer patient by comparing disease and treatment histories, genetic data, scans and symptoms against the vast universe of medical knowledge.”
June 28, 2015
Why Gene-Editing Technology Has Scientists Excited
A new technology for “editing” defective genes has raised hopes for a future generation of medicines treating intractable diseases like cancer, cystic fibrosis and sickle-cell anemia.
Such drugs could home in on a specific gene causing a disease, then snip it out and, if necessary, replace it with a healthy segment of DNA.
Drugs of this type wouldn’t hit the mass market for years, if ever; pharmaceutical firms are only now exploring how to make drugs using the gene-editing technology, called Crispr-Cas9. But the approach offers tremendous potential for developing new treatments for diseases caused by a mutated gene. …
To read the full article online, click HERE.
June 27, 2015
Watson’s next feat? Taking on cancer
…Four years after destroying human competitors on “Jeopardy!” to win a suspense-filled tournament watched by millions, the IBM computer brain is everywhere. It’s done stints as a call center operator and hotel concierge, and been spotted helping people pick songs. It’s even published its own cookbook, with 231 pages of what the company calls “recipes for innovation.” (The reviews haven’t been flattering — one foodie declared one of Chef Watson’s creations “the worst burrito I’ve ever had.”)
But these feats were essentially gimmicks.
IBM is now training Watson to be a cancer specialist. The idea is to use Watson’s increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence to find personalized treatments for every cancer patient by comparing disease and treatment histories, genetic data, scans and symptoms against the vast universe of medical knowledge.
Such precision targeting is possible to a limited extent, but it can take weeks of dedicated sleuthing by a team of researchers. Watson would be able to make this type of treatment recommendation in mere minutes. …
The IBM program is one of several new aggressive health-care projects that aim to sift through the huge pools of data created by people’s records and daily routines and then identify patterns and connections to predict needs. It is a revolutionary approach to medicine and health care that is likely to have significant social, economic and political consequences. …
To read the full article online, click HERE.
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s decision on the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics (MATS) rule.
“Costs to jobs and the economy matter. This important decision was the right one and underscores that agencies do not have unlimited authority to impose excessive costs on the American public. Unfortunately, this ruling comes after the rule has already taken a toll, with a number of power plants shuttered and many jobs lost because of the EPA’s unlawful action. The ruling further underscores the need to extend the compliance requirements for the pending 111(d) rule until the numerous legal questions surrounding it are fully resolved, which is why we have introduced and the House has passed H.R. 2042, the Ratepayer Protection Act.”
H.R. 2042, the Ratepayer Protection Act, is bipartisan legislation addressing EPA’s pending 111(d) rule for existing power plants. H.R. 2042 would allow for completion of judicial review of the final rule before requiring states to comply.
For more information on H.R. 2042, click here.
WASHINGTON, DC – Bipartisan leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee today sent a letter to Dr. Nicole Lurie, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, seeking details regarding the administration’s “emergency preparedness in response to the spread of avian influenza.”
Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), and Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO) write, “The U.S. is currently suffering from the worst avian influenza outbreak in history.” The United States Department of Agriculture has identified two sub-types of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) that “are spreading, causing widespread economic devastation and the deaths of tens of millions of birds.”
The bipartisan leaders continue, “Influenza has the ability to mutate and potentially threaten public health. On June 2, 2015, the CDC issued a health advisory stating that it ‘considers these newly-identified HPAI H5 viruses as having the potential to cause sever disease in humans’ and made recommendations to clinicians, state health departments, and the public. ... HPAI H5 viruses also have the potential to threaten public health indirectly through pressures on the flu vaccine development process, which still mostly requires chicken eggs.”
The leaders are seeking information regarding the administration’s efforts to prevent disruption to the development of the flu vaccine and to prepare local communities to deal with the potential spread to humans.
Upton, Pallone, Murphy, and DeGette also sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office seeking a review of the federal preparedness efforts surrounding this rapidly spreading disease.
Read the complete letters online HERE.
#Cures2015: Hope for Families
Rep. Walberg: “The 21st Century Cures Act is a unique opportunity to set aside party politics and enact bold solutions to improve the lives of the American people.”
June 26, 2015
21st Century Cures Act Aims to Improve Lives, Offer Hope
By Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI)
June is Alzheimer's Awareness Month.
For many of us, we have a close friend or family member who suffers from this debilitating disease.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, 180,000 people age 65 or older in Michigan live with the disease. Across the country, it's more than 5 million.
The cost to care for those with Alzheimer's is an estimated $226 billion in 2015 alone.
With no cure or way to slow it down, Alzheimer's takes a tremendous mental, physical, and financial toll on patients and caregivers.
Sadly, Alzheimer's isn't unique. It is one of many diseases that do not have a cure.
In total, we know about 10,000 diseases but only have 500 treatments.
That's why I'm proud to co-sponsor the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act, spearheaded by my colleagues Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO).
The goal of the 21st Century Cures Act is to speed up the research and development of a new generation of life-saving cures and treatments for patients.
We live in a time of incredible advancement in science and technology, but our laws and bureaucracies are stuck in the past. We need to modernize them for the iPhone age.
That begins with reforming the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval process. Right now it takes an average of 15 years for a new drug to go from the laboratory to the pharmacy. Removing unnecessary red tape will streamline the process and accelerate getting new breakthroughs to market.
Innovative medical apps that improve health care outcomes show remarkable promise but also face an uncertain and burdensome regulatory system. With the prevalence of smartphones, anyone can benefit from using apps that monitor patient data, improve communication with doctors, and provide other personalized care in real time.
To unleash these tools faster, the bill will establish common sense steps to remove the uncertainty for their developers caused by an outdated system.
Boosting research and removing barriers to collaboration will also help increase the rate of developing better cures.
To that end, the bill includes $10 billion in new resources for the National Institutes of Health, fully paid for by other savings. It also increases incentives for younger scientists to focus their research on making new discoveries.
The House is set to vote on the 21st Century Cures Act in the coming weeks, and I'm optimistic it will pass with overwhelming bipartisan support.
As the population ages, diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cancer, and more affect a growing number of Americans. It often feels like there is no hope for families that are suffering. The 21st Century Cures Act can begin to change that.
By investing in cutting edge health research and our innovation infrastructure, we can find better cures to bring a healthier future in reach for patients.
At a time when partisan gridlock dominates the headlines, the 21st Century Cures Act is a unique opportunity to set aside party politics and enact bold solutions to improve the lives of the American people.
Read the piece online HERE.
21st Century Cures is a nonpartisan initiative that enjoys the support of the majority of the House of Representatives. The bill ensures real dollars will flow to vital health research and innovation initiatives, and that this spending is fully offset. Additionally, the mandatory savings in H.R. 6 will lead to billions in additional savings in Medicare and Medicaid outside the budget window. Put briefly: the 21st Century Cures Act is a fiscally responsible plan that invests in health care to help find cures and therapies for the thousands of diseases without one.
Neil Bradley, the Chief Strategy Officer of the Conservative Reform Network and former Hill leadership staff and Executive Director of the Republican Study Committee, explains, “the 21st Century Cures bill proposes to cut mandatory spending and use the savings to provide five years of dedicated funding for medical research. … In addition to fully offsetting the new investment in medical research, the process proposed in 21st Century Cures ensures the following:
“All of those are things conservatives should applaud and look for opportunities to repeat.”
June 26, 2015
An Opportunity that Shouldn’t be Missed
Conservatives have long argued that, if we ever hope to get federal spending under control, we have to tackle mandatory spending – especially entitlements. Yet, year-in and year-out the spending debates in Washington seem to revolve almost exclusively around discretionary spending, which today represents less than one-third of all federal spending. The reason is simple: discretionary spending requires annual approval by Congress while mandatory spending is essentially on auto-pilot – at most requiring renewal every five to seven years (like the Farm Bill).
So while Republicans in Congress often propose to achieve major savings from mandatory spending as part of the annual budget resolution, the budget doesn’t have the force of law. Further, legislation to achieve those savings is not considered “must-pass” and often isn’t even considered.
That is why it is so important that conservatives look for every opportunity possible to take on mandatory spending. Often these opportunities present themselves in the context of achieving other goals. For example, two years ago the need to revise the sequester led to the Ryan-Murray deal which offset increased discretionary with other savings, including over $50 billion in mandatory savings.
What has been missing is the opportunity to tackle mandatory spending outside of larger budget deals.
Enter the 21st Century Cures proposal from the Energy and Commerce Committee. Increasing funding for medical research, which CRN will examine in the coming weeks and months, enjoys substantial bipartisan support in Congress. But medical research funding is discretionary, and no budget deal is in the works; and even if there was, there is no guarantee that the increase in discretionary spending would go to medical research.
In an innovative tack, the 21st Century Cures bill proposes to cut mandatory spending and use the savings to provide five years of dedicated funding for medical research. Congress can review the dedicated funding and allocate it for specific initiatives each year through the annual appropriations process. While conservatives and policymakers will, of course, have to evaluate the individual merits of the mandatory savings, the budgetary process itself is worthy of support.
Now some have argued that the increased spending for medical research is itself mandatory, and thus the proposal is just swapping one kind of mandatory spending for another. But this criticism misses the fact that, absent some type of mechanism like what is proposed in 21st Century Cures, there is no means in the normal federal budget process to cut mandatory spending and use the savings to fund a discretionary project. One goal of any reform of the federal budget process ought to be the creation of a way to allow committees to readily convert mandatory spending to discretionary spending. But until Congress enacts those reforms, it shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity the 21st Century Cures proposal presents.
In addition to fully offsetting the new investment in medical research, the process proposed in 21st Century Cures ensures the following:
All of those are things conservatives should applaud and look for opportunities to repeat.
Read the article online HERE.
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