Congs. DeGette, Upton Introduce Highly Anticipated 21st Century Cures 2.0 Bill

On November 17, House Energy & Commerce (E&C) Committee members Cong. Diana DeGette [D-CO, Chair of the Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee] and Fred Upton [R-MI, Ranking Member of the Energy Subcommittee] released 21st Century Cures 2.0 legislation (H.R. 6000) to build upon the legislation initially passed in December 2016. Within the wide-ranging bill is a “Research” section that:

  • Establishes the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health (ARPA-H) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to accelerate transformative research innovation and funds it at $6.5 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, with funding “to remain available until expended.” In his April 9 FY2022 budget request, President Biden proposed creation of ARPA-H, to be funded at $6.5 billion in FY2022, with funds available through September 30, 2024.
  • Includes the bipartisan Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act (H.R. 869/S. 289), which provides $25 billion in research recovery funding to federal agencies supporting scientific research, including $10 billion for the NIH.

The DeGette/Upton bill is in addition to the ARPA-H Act (H.R. 5585), introduced on October 15 by House E&C Health Subcommittee Chair Anna Eshoo (D-CA) that would authorize establishment of ARPA-H within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHH)—and not specifically NIH—and fund it $3 billion in FY2022, with funding “to remain available until expended.”     

This action by these “authorizers” responds to a requirement in the July 15 House-passed FY2022 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) bill that ARPA-H be authorized before it is established within NIH and funded at $3 billion. The October 18 Senate-released draft FY2022 LHHS bill also includes an authorization requirement for ARPA-H’s establishment in within NIH, with funding at $2.4 billion.    

The DeGette/Upton bill introduction follows release of a June 22 Cures 2.0 discussion draft to which NAEVR submitted July 13 comments that, while recognizing ARPA-H’s potential for transformative innovation, its funding should supplement, and not supplant, NIH’s base budget, and that it should consider a wide variety of life-saving and quality-of-life enhancing research from across NIH’s Institutes and Centers (I/Cs).     

Throughout the summer, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and NIH held a series of “Listening Sessions” and issued a summary report, which was the focus of an October 20 session. OSTP acknowledged that the research community was in consensus about numerous issues, including that ARPA-H should: not be disease-specific, but focus on pathways and technologies that benefit broad disease research; engage the stakeholder community; use the latest in management of “Big Data;” and not be funded at the expense of NIH’s base budget.