House Approves ARPA-H Authorizing Legislation

On June 22, the House of Representatives passed legislation that authorizes the Advanced Research Projects Agency-H (ARPA-H). The bill, HR 5585,  which passed by a vote of 336 to 85, establishes ARPA-H as a separate agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  President Biden had originally proposed that ARPA-H be established as an independent institute within the National Institutes of Health (NIH), but the House bill would establish the new agency as independent within HHS. 

The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration. Its fate in the Senate is unclear, as Senate HELP Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) have both suggested they are comfortable with APRA-H being located within the NIH.

Modeled on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), ARPA-H would seek to accelerate health and medical innovation by investing in high-risk, high-reward research. The President would nominate a Director, but the House bill would not require Senate confirmation.

An inter-agency committee would be created to monitor the activity of ARPA-H, including the Directors of the NIH, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Science Foundation. (NSF), DARPA, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and several other major research and health care agencies and offices. The committee would advise the Director on research priorities and offer recommendations on ways to improve coordination with other federal research agencies.

The legislation also authorizes $500 million in funding for ARPA-H per year from Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 through FY2027.  Actual funding for ARPA-H would be set by the Appropriations committees in the annual LHHS appropriations bills. For FY2023, the House LHHS appropriations bill would fund ARPA-H at a level of $2.75 billion.