April 08, 2016

Senate Panel Clears Biomedical Innovation Bills

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee cleared five bills on April 6 in the final markup of its biomedical innovation work.

The Senate legislative package complements the House-passed 21st Century Cures Act, which the House passed in July of 2015. On Wednesday, the Senate HELP Committee marked up the following bills:
  • The Promoting Biomedical Research and Public Health for Patients Act (S. 2742)
  • The FDA and NIH Workforce Authorities Modernization Act (S.2700)
  • The Promise for Antibiotics and Therapeutics for Health Act (S. 185)
  • The Advancing Precision Medicine Act (S.2173)
  • The Advancing NIH Strategic Planning and Representation in Medical Research Act (S. 2745)
The previous two hearings held by the HELP Committee on these issues went smoothly, with agreements to move the legislation forward coming largely on voice votes. The final markup of the bipartisan bills also proceeded easily, though there is still no deal on the minority Democrats' chief demand for new, mandatory funding for the National Institutes of Health before they will allow the package to go to the Senate floor.

In response, HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) reiterated his pledge to work with ranking member Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to bring a funding agreement to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) when the legislation heads to the full chamber. He indicated he is working closely with Senate Finance Committee leaders Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) and has consulted with Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell on the legislation.

Although Alexander did not specify a timeframe for preparing the legislation for final passage, he expressed his desire for a conference committee meeting with the House on the biomedical innovation bills before the end of the year.