Committee on Energy and Commerce

Fred Upton

#Cures2015 Through The Lens


Over the past two weeks, the 21st Century Cures initiative has moved through the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee and full committee, enjoying momentum from a continued flood of support. For more than a year, committee members have brought patients, innovators, care givers, regulators, researchers, and other thought leaders to the table for an open and collaborative conversation. Their common goal: building a 21st Century health care system that embraces personalized medicine and advances in technology, encourages greater innovation, supports more research, and streamlines the system so patients ultimately gain access to more cures and treatments more quickly. As committee members prepare to take the next step in the legislative phase, here’s a look back at the past two weeks of 21st Century Cures.  

Michigan’s Brook and Brielle Kennedy, Chairman Upton’s inspiration, drew a picture of “the key to cures” ahead of the Health Subcommittee vote on #Cures2015


The Health Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), advanced #Cures2015 on May 14, 2015

Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) chat before the Health Subcommittee vote on the 21st Century Cures legislation on May 14, 2015

Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) delivering his opening statement at the full committee markup on Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A packed Big House applauds the unanimous passage of H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act

Chairman Fred Upton and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) get a little help from their friend Max, a 6 year old patient with a rare disease, to conclude the full committee markup where H.R. 6 was unanimously approved by a vote of 51-0

Stay tuned for another look behind the lens next month. In the meantime, keep up to date on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and online here




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#SubOversight Continues Efforts to Combat Prescription Drug & Opioid Abuse


WASHINGTON, DC – The Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), today continued its review of the ongoing prescription drug and opioid abuse epidemic with a look at what is being done at the state level to combat these crises.

“The size of this problem and the need for a new paradigm of treatment can’t be understated. And the process of developing legislative solutions has already started,” said Murphy. “Today we heard from the states about best practice models, problems they have encountered, and how states have addressed these problems. We also received honest input and ideas about where there are problems and successes with any federal policies.”

“We know that more than 70% of those who abuse prescription drugs obtain them from the unused supplies of friends or family, highlighting the importance of supporting robust medication collection and disposal resources throughout the state,” explained Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer Larry Wolk, M.D., MSPH. Wolk, like the other witnesses, explained how important education and collaborative work is to fighting this crisis.

“We must take greater advantage of the evidence-based treatments that we have at our disposal for opioid addiction,” added Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, M.D., M.P.H. “However, as our national data demonstrates, more than 80% of these lethal pain killers came from non-clinicians – in fact nearly 70% from family and friends. And so again, this story highlights an elemental truth: we will fail in our efforts to address this crisis if we do not fully involve all partners from all sectors – family and community of all ages and walks, law enforcement, public health, healthcare, schools, and you, our elected leaders.”

“If we focus on education, patient centered care, and community and patient empowerment, I am confident we can successfully combat the problem of opioid abuse,” added Indiana Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H., who explained that in addition to opioid abuse, Indiana is also working more broadly to combat “rampant substance use disorder (SUD).”

In addition to treating those already afflicted with opioid addictions, Missouri’s Department of Mental Health Division of Behavioral Health Director Mark Stringer spoke to the importance in working to prevent these issues before they begin. He singled out a coalition of 21 colleges in Missouri working together to “promote health and safety for students.” Stringer explained, “One impressive aspect of the initiative is the array of stakeholders involved: campus prevention professionals, University administration officials, police and public safety officers, student volunteers, community business owners, and others.”

Today’s hearing continued the subcommittee’s review of this epidemic, previously focusing on, state and local perspectives, professional and academic perspectives, and the federal government’s response.


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The 21st Century Cures Act: UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED


WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Committee today unanimously approved the nonpartisan 21st Century Cures Act 51-0. The nonpartisan legislation will help to modernize and personalize health care, encourage greater innovation, support research, and streamline the system to deliver better, faster cures to more patients. The bill has seen continued support throughout the process. H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act, was authored by full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member DeGette, full committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA), and Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Gene Green (D-TX).

"This historic day marks a big bipartisan step forward on our path to cures,” said Upton. “We have all said too many early good-byes to people we love and treasure. Every single person has a common goal: we want more time with those we love. In this, the greatest country in the world, Americans deserve a system second to none. We can and must do better. The time for 21st Century Cures is now.”

"In the last century, American medicine leapt from medicine shows to the mapping of the human genome,” said DeGette.”With the 21st Century Cures Act, we seek to support the biomedical community in making a similar leap forward in this next century. With billions in support for our premier research and development institutions and comprehensive reform of our systems, 21st Century Cures will make a real difference in the lives of patients and their families."

“Today’s vote is an important next step for this committee as we work to get 21st Century Cures enacted into law by the end of the year,” said Pitts. “This bill is improved since the Subcommittee marked it up on May 14, and that demonstrates the collaborative nature of our effort. Landmark legislation like 21st Century Cures illustrates that Congress can and should strive for ambitious goals. I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their hard work to modernize our discovery, development and delivery system, which will give hope to millions of Americans for an accelerated path to cures.”

“Our committee has had the unique opportunity to help usher our health care system into the 21st century, and I am glad that we have come together to begin to do so in a bipartisan way with this bill,” said Pallone. “The 21st Century Cures Act will ensure that innovative treatments are getting to those who need them most, giving real hope to patients and their families. Critical funding for our nation’s top research institutions will help to bolster biomedical research, advance cutting edge science, and further improve the process by which life-saving cures are discovered and approved. Today’s vote is an important step toward improving the health and lives of millions of Americans.”

Green added, “I’m proud of the final bill that was voted out of Committee, which will improve the innovation ecosystem for the development of life-saving medical breakthroughs, foster the development and the interoperability of health information technology, and better leverage critical resources to facilitate the discovery of new cures. After one year of deliberation, research, and stakeholder input we’re one step closer to delivering new cures and therapies, and hope to patients.”

Read what patient groups, researchers, and health care organizations have said:

To read comments from Energy and Commerce Committee members, click HERE.

Learn more about the Cures effort HERE and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter using #Cures2015


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#Cures2015 to Continue TOMORROW at 8:30 AM


Bipartisan Leaders: “The policies in this package are long overdue and will pave the way for a new generation of health care innovation.”

WASHINGTON, DC – Bipartisan leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee issued the following statement ahead of tomorrow’s continuation of the markup of H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA), full committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr., (D-NJ), and Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Gene Green (D-TX) this afternoon reached an agreement on a fully-offset 21st Century Cures package and will reconvene a full committee markup at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 21, 2015.

“The policies in this package are long overdue and will pave the way for a new generation of health care innovation,” the bipartisan leaders said. “Too many patients and families have been waiting too long for cures — this bill will make a difference. We look forward to tomorrow morning advancing this landmark legislation through the House Energy and Commerce Committee and continuing down the path to cures.”  

Details will be made available in the morning, prior to the 8:30 a.m. markup.



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#SubCommTech Approves Seven Bills to Open the FCC’s Doors to the American People


WASHINGTON, DC - The Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, chaired by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), today approved seven bills aimed at improving transparency and process at the Federal Communications Commission. Today’s markup follows two hearings by the subcommittee examining these issues with members of the commission and expert witnesses.

“I am pleased that both Republicans and Democrats alike recognize the value of increased transparency at the commission and see a need for congressional action to improve the FCC’s decision-making process,” said Chairman Walden. “The FCC’s work doesn’t only impact the industries that it regulates, but as daily consumers of communications services, our own lives as well. This is why it is so important to make sure that the FCC functions in an effective, transparent manner.”

“Due process and transparency are too important to simply give up on and I applaud the subcommittee’s commitment to making meaningful improvements,” added full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “My colleagues from both sides of the aisle also have offered sensible reforms that will improve the function of the FCC in a significant way. Transparency and process are the foundation of public trust in the government and are critical to the legitimacy of law.”

The subcommittee advanced the following bills:

  • A draft bill, authored by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), that would require the FCC to coordinate with the Small Business Administration and issue recommendations to improve small business participation in FCC proceedings. The draft bill was approved by voice vote.
  • A draft bill, Rep. David Loebsack (D-IA), that would require the chairman to post the commission’s internal procedures on the FCC website and update the website when the chairman makes any changes. The draft bill was approved by voice vote.
  • A draft bill, authored by Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), that would require the FCC to report quarterly to Congress and to post on the FCC website data on the total number of decisions pending categorized by bureau, the type of request, and how long the requests have been pending. The report also includes a list of pending Congressional investigations and an audited cost to the agency.  The draft bill was approved by voice vote.
  • A discussion draft of the FCC Process Reform Act, authored by subcommittee Chairman Walden, Ranking Member Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), that aims to increase transparency and predictability at the commission. The draft bill was approved by voice vote.


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HEARING POSTPONEMENT NOTICE: Subcommittee on Energy and Power


The Subcommittee on Energy and Power has rescheduled tomorrow’s hearing with Energy Secretary Moniz. The Secretary will now testify on June 2, 2015, at 10 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled, “Quadrennial Energy Review and related Discussion Drafts.” The hearing will also include an additional panel on the committee’s Energy Diplomacy draft, which was previously announced.

The Majority Memorandum, a witness list, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.


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NEWS: Katy on The Hill: Walden won’t give up on reforming the FCC


The House Communications and Technology Subcommittee today will consider seven draft bills, offered by Republicans and Democrats, to improve process and transparency at the Federal Communications Commission. Ahead of today’s 2:00 p.m. markup, Katy on the Hill interviewed Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) about his longstanding efforts to improve accountability, efficiency, and transparency at the FCC as well as other work before the subcommittee. Excerpts from the piece are below.

Walden won’t give up on reforming the FCC By Katy Bachman

When it comes to who in Congress has sway over media and tech issues, look no further than Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.). As chairman of the communications and technology subcommittee, Walden, a ham radio operator and former broadcaster, has been trying to get some changes at how the Federal Communications Commission does its business for the better part of three Congresses. And he’s not about to give up now.

Nor is Walden stopping with the FCC. The mild-mannered lawmaker is also ready to take on a rewrite of the entire communications law, the 80 year-old statute that hasn’t had an update since 1996—before the Internet and before mobile devices became a part of every day life.

KotH sat down with Walden before Wednesday’s mark up of 7 bills to reform FCC process. Among the changes proposed: require the agency to publish drafts of proposed rules before votes and immediately publish texts of final orders after votes.

You’ve been at FCC process reform for a while, but last month you really showed some frustration with the FCC and how it works. Why are you so fired up now?

I guess I get my dander up when I think an agency is running amuck. I just think you get better outcome on policy if you have a good process. Then at least people feel like they have an opportunity to make their case. Just some of things I’ve seen happen at the FCC, the way it’s being managed right now, isn’t as good as it could be.

Can any of the seven bills put forward get any headway?

We’ve moved from a position a year or two ago where the agency could do no wrong to [a recognition that] there are things we can do to improve the process. And you see that from members on both sides of the aisle coming forward with their ideas about how to make things more transparent, how to make the rules more available on a more timely basis. …

Read the full article online HERE.

**Electronic copies of the discussion drafts and a background memo can be found on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s website here. Amendments and votes will be available at the same link as they are posted.


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SCHEDULING NOTICE: 21st Century Cures Markup Will Reconvene TOMORROW at 8:30 AM


WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Committee markup of H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act, will reconvene at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 21, 2015 in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

“21st Century Cures has been about collaboration from the start, and we’re continuing to work together today. We have come a long way over the past year and we are closer than ever to delivering on the promise of 21st Century Cures,” commented Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “Combining bold policy reforms, meaningful investments to NIH and FDA, and responsible savings is a tall task, and we’re up to the job. A few extra hours of work now will pay dividends in what we deliver to patients.” 

View H.R. 6 online here.

Read a section-by-section online here.


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#SubEnergyPower Continues Work to Keep Electricity Reliable and Affordable


WASHINGTON, DC – The Energy and Power Subcommittee today continued its work to build the Architecture of Abundance with the review of a discussion draft that seeks to improve energy reliability and security. Innovation and advancements in technology have offered new opportunities to improve our nation’s electric system for the better, yet at the same time, changes in market dynamics and new environmental regulations have created new challenges for our electric grid. This section of the bill works to update our nation’s electricity infrastructure and ensure it is secure, resilient, and reliable.

“America was the first nation to electrify, and overall our system of generating and delivering power remains the best in the world. But to stay that way in the years ahead we need to better address existing and emerging threats, and I believe the ideas in this discussion draft are a good start,” said Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY).

Thomas Fanning, Chairman, President and CEO of Southern Company, praised the committee’s work in building the Architecture of Abundance and voiced strong support for efforts on the draft. “The committee is demonstrating leadership by proposing the discussion draft language to enhance system security and resiliency, retain the reliability and economic benefits provided by baseload generation, and protect electric reliability,” said Fanning.

Elinor Haider, Vice President of Veolia Energy North America, testified on behalf of the Alliance of Industrial Efficiency and explained that the “Committee’s Discussion Draft takes an important step to help keep the lights on during extreme weather events, improve grid reliability, capture wasted energy, and make our nation more competitive.”

Joseph Dominguez, Executive Vice President of Exelon Corporation, said that the committee’s draft addresses many challenges the electricity sector is facing today. “The draft requires the consideration of criteria that include a diverse and flexible generation portfolio, long-term reliability and stable pricing, price adequacy and certainty, and enhanced operational performance assurances during peak-demand periods,” said Dominguez.

Emily Heitman, VP and GM of ABB Inc., testifying on behalf of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), voiced support to the draft’s section creating a Strategic Transformer Reserve. “ABB and NEMA support this legislation as we believe the creation of a Strategic Transformer Reserve would fill a gap in our nation’s capability to respond to the catastrophic loss of several LPTs,” said Heitman.

John Di Stasio, President of the Large Public Power Council, explained, “Electric utilities face a confluence of challenges requiring them to balance needs that have not previously converged, both individually and as part of an interconnected grid.” He commended the subcommittee for its focus on this critical issue.

Gerry Cauley from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) noted that this bill is an important step to recognizing the nature of our grid.NERC appreciates the recognition this bill provides on several important topics related to reliability and security. As the international electric reliability organization, consultation with Canada and Mexico throughout the bill is an important recognition of the interconnected nature of our North American grid,” said Cauley.

Full Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) concluded, “The National Academy of Engineering cited electrification as the greatest achievement affecting the quality of life in the 20th century, but it is every bit as important to modernize the grid to face the new and emerging challenges of the 21st century.”


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#SubCMT Reviews CPSC Policies and Priorities


WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade today held a hearing with commissioners of the Consumer Product Safety Commission to review the agency’s budget, priorities, and policies. Chairman Elliot Kaye, Commissioner Robert Adler, Commissioner Ann Marie Buerkle, and Commissioner John Mohorovic provided testimony.

“Consumer safety is a top priority for this subcommittee and at a time where difficult budgeting decisions are being made across the government, it is critical that all agencies are held accountable for their prioritization decisions,” said Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX).

Full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) added, “Oversight of an agency with such broad jurisdiction is critical to ensuring unsafe products are either stopped from coming into the stream of commerce or are taken off the shelves in a seamless and timely manner.”

Members of the panel questioned the commissioners over a range of issues facing the agency, including the implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), efforts to reduce third party testing burdens for small businesses, education incentives and partnerships, changes to the voluntary recall process, and other commission rulemakings.

Commissioner Ann Marie Buerkle noted the unintended consequences of the CPSIA and expressed that more still needs to be done to improve the law. “I think it is clear, however, that CPSIA went too far in some respects, forcing regulation without regard to risk, let alone cost,” said Buerkle. “This subcommittee led the way in moderating some of the untoward consequences of CPSIA through its work on H.R. 2715, which passed into law while I was a Member of the House. Some objectives of that law remain unfulfilled. … I think there is still much more we can do to remove unnecessary regulatory burdens in this arena, and I look forward to working with this committee to that end.”

Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) questioned the commissioners over the challenges small businesses face due to the CPSIA’s redundant testing requirements. Watch her questioning HERE:

One open rulemaking at the commission proposes mandatory standards for recreational off-highway vehicles. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) has introduced legislation, H.R. 999, requiring an independent study of the standards before they go into effect. “I want to make sure that we don’t cut short this process, that we get the data right – the science and the engineering and technology right,” said Pompeo. Today’s second panel of witnesses provided testimony on Pompeo’s bill.

“The ROV manufacturers’ engineers and technical staff have serious safety concerns about the effects of the CPSC’s proposals. The RIDE Act will help resolve these matters by having the CPSC’s proposals examined by an independent agency, such as the National Academy of Sciences, in consultation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Department of Defense. This commonsense approach – resolving technical issues before considering implementation – should be supported by everyone,” said Erik Pritchard, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association.

Chairman Burgess concluded, “The CPSC’s mission must remain a touchstone for its important work and not a launching off point for an activist state driven by headlines rather than science and economics. Such an approach compromises the trust in an agency that has successfully removed thousands of unsafe consumer products from the economy as well as the voluntary safety standards process that builds safety into products on the front end.”




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