House of Representatives Approves 21st Century Cures Legislation
July 10, 2015
By a vote of 344-77, the House of Representatives today voted to approve H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures legislation, sending the bill to the Senate for consideration. The bill had been passed by the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee last May by unanimous vote, and the House Floor vote today continued to highlight the strong bipartisan support that the legislation has, with 170 Republicans joining with 174 Democrats to approve the legislation.
The bill would provide $8.75 billion over five years in mandatory funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through the creation of a new Innovation Fund, and increase the authorization levels for the NIH by $1.5 billion per-year for the next three Fiscal Years. The original version of the bill would have funded the Innovation Fund at $2 billion per-year for 5 years, but before the legislation was brought to the floor a Manager's Amendment to the bill reduced its funding levels to $1.86 billion per-year, with the NIH receiving $1.75 billion and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receiving $110 million, respectively, each year.
In a joint statement, the bill's authors, E&C Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO), Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA), full committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr., (D-NJ), and Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Gene Green (D-TX) commented: Today, we took a big leap on the path to cures, but we still have much work left to do. The 344 votes today should be a springboard for action. On to the Senate.
Before the vote was taken, NAEVR and ARVO members sent letters to their representatives asking that they reject an amendment offered by Cong. Dave Brat (R-VA) that would have converted the new NIH funding from mandatory to discretionary, thereby subjecting the funds to the regular appropriations process and the limits of the budget caps and sequestration, making it less likely that the NIH would ever see the additional funds. The amendment failed by a vote of 141 to 281, with no Democrats voting in support.
NAEVR has issued a press statement commending the House vote. In June, NAEVR delivered letters of support to the bill's champions and has participated in medical research coalition advocacy activities to ensure its passage.