DHHS Secretary Becerra Testifies Before House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee

On May 12, DHHS Secretary Xavier Becerra testified before the House Energy & Commerce’s Committee’s Health Subcommittee. While the NIH was not discussed much at the hearing, the President’s proposed ARPA-H initiative was the subject of questions and comments from several members of the Subcommittee. On April 15, Secretary Becerra had testified before the House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee about the President's Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Budget Request.

Chair Anna Eshoo (D-CA) asked the Secretary what the rationale was for the creation of the new agency, which would be partially modeled on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Secretary Becerra responded that ARPA-H would seek to build upon promising developments resulting from NIH-funded basic research to accelerate the development of new therapies. Chairwoman Eshoo also asked the Secretary to clarify where ARPA-H would be located, to which he responded that the President wasn’t  committed to locating it within NIH and would be open to further discussions with Congress.

In response to a question from Cong. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Secretary Becerra reiterated that ARPA-H would use the basic science funded by the NIH as a ‘springboard’ to advance the development of new therapies and would partner with the private sector.

Cong. Fred Upton (R-MI) said that he planned to include an ARPA-H proposal in 21st Century Cures 2.0 legislation that he plans to introduce with E& C Committee colleague Cong. Diana DeGette (D-CO).