US House approves Cures Act

The US House of Representatives on November 30 passed the 21st Century Cures Act (now HR 34) in a vote of 392 to 26. All Oregon members of the House voted for the bill. Senate passage is likely the week of December 5th.

The Cures Act, which authorizes increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), enjoys broad support from the research community and has been endorsed by the White House, but other groups oppose using the Public Health and Prevention Fund as the offset to pay for increased funding. Some senators have expressed concern about changes related to the Food and Drug Administration.

Prior to House consideration, a manager's amendment to the bill reallocated funding levels for the national Institutes of Health (NIH), without changing the agency's overall total of $4.796 billion over 10 years. The amendment moved $55 million from the BRAIN initiative to the Precision Medicine Initiative, resulting in the Precision Medicine Initiative being allocated $1.455 billion over 10 years and the BRAIN initiative $1.511 billion over 10 years. Both initiatives will receive funding in FY17 (previously no new funds). Funding for the Cancer Moonshot was extended two years (FY22-23) although the overall total remains roughly the same.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has prepared several documents about the Cures Act, including an updated chart on Innovation Fund spending and a section by section outline of the bill.

Earlier this week, the Association of American Universities (AAU) sent a letter to House and Senate leaders urging passage of the bill, focusing on its increased funding for NIH; support for researchers and the next generation of the biomedical research workforce; and its direction to federal agencies to reduce the burden on research of regulations in such areas as animal welfare, sub-recipient monitoring, and financial conflict of interest reporting.

Along with education research funding, the National Institutes of Health is one of the most important federal funding sources for UO researchers.

Source: Association of American Universities