Following Reports of Live Anthrax Shipments, Committee Leaders Request Briefings from CDC and DOD on Handling of Select Agents
WASHINGTON, DC – Bipartisan leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee today requested briefings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Defense regarding the recent reports of live anthrax being shipped to nine states and South Korea.
The leaders write, “The Department’s inadvertent transfer of live anthrax samples, just like similar incidents at the CDC last year, raise serious safety concerns about the sufficiency of inactivation protocols and procedures for studying dangerous pathogens.”
The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations last year launched an investigation in the wake of a number of safety lapses involving dangerous biomedical materials known as select agents, including anthrax, smallpox, and avian influenza. At a subcommittee hearing in this investigation, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden acknowledged “an insufficient culture of safety.”
The request comes on the heels of a separate letter sent recently to the Government Accountability Office requesting a review of the different types and methods of biosafety inactivation and attenuation protocols.
The letters were signed by full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), full committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr., (D-NJ), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), and subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO).
The Flood of Support for #Cures2015 Continues
The House Energy and Commerce Committee recently approved the 21st Century Cures Act with a vote of 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. This effort has seen continued support since the launch of the 21st Century Cures initiative last year and groups continue to share their support as the bill advances forward.
“The Alliance stands ready to work with you toward passage of this important legislation.”
“Thank you again for your continued support of medical researchers and those living with both physical and psychiatric neurological diseases.”
“AACI congratulates the Committee on the passage of this bipartisan bill and expresses its sincere thanks for your tireless work to bring improvements to biomedical research.”
“On behalf of countless medical researchers, physicians and the more than 38,000 Americans employed in scholarly publishing, we thank you for working to remove barriers that prevent physician access to the most current medical information. Your legislation will ensure that physicians are able to provide the best possible care to their patients through access to the highest quality publications in the world.”
“APHON very much appreciates your leadership in taking a comprehensive look at what steps can be taken to accelerate the pace of cures in America.”
“Biocom applauds this large-scale, bipartisan, and collaborative effort that has consistently engaged a broad range of stakeholders, from government agencies to patient groups to industry, since its inception a year ago.”
“We commend the Energy and Commerce Committee for its hard work on these fronts and encourage continued bipartisan collaboration as the legislation advances in the House and as the Senate proceeds with its efforts.”
“Thank you, on behalf of the childhood cancer community and the parents of children with cancer everywhere.”
“We appreciate your leadership on this issue and are pleased that the 21st Century Cures legislation takes steps to improve Medicare cost information available for hospital outpatient departments and ambulatory surgical centers.”
“The CME Coalition wholeheartedly endorses your efforts to streamline the implementation of new medical treatments, and has a unique appreciation for the need to provide the tools and education physicians need to implement the newest innovations in medicine.”
“(T)hank you for including a provision in the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 6) exempting medical textbooks and peer-reviewed journals from burdensome reporting requirements. … We thank you for including this important provision which accurately recognizes the need to reduce barriers for physicians to provide the best possible care to their patients.”
“We know the value of collaboration, particularly in pediatric research since most of the diseases and disorders of childhood are rare conditions, necessitating multi-institution collaborations to advance scientific discovery. Today’s action will move us one step closer to supporting the network to enhance the health and well-being of our children.”
“This landmark legislation will build upon the United States’ worldwide leadership in medical innovation by reforming medical research and development policies to keep pace with rapidly changing scientific breakthroughs. Since the very beginning, 21st Century Cures has focused on improving the bench to bedside continuum to give doctors more tools, and give patients more hope.”
“(W)e commend the Energy & Commerce Committee for setting forth a collaborative structure in the 21st Century Cures Act in which government, individuals, and industry to accelerate the discovery, development and delivery of cures to patients.”
“NAMI is pleased to support this bipartisan effort to advance biomedical research and develop new treatments for a broad range of devastating diseases. … It is critical for the House to act on legislation to advance scientific discovery and bring newer and better treatments forward across a broad range of illnesses and diseases, including serious mental illness. Thank you for your leadership on this important legislation.”
“Pfizer applauds the Committee on Energy and Commerce for passing the 21st Century Cures Act today. Chairman Upton, Congresswoman DeGette and committee members have shown dedication to improving how medicines in the U.S. are discovered, developed and delivered to patients.”
“(A)pplaud the dedication and leadership… demonstrated by working in a bipartisan fashion toward accelerating health discovery and development in the 21st Century Cures Act….”
“The 21st Century Cures Act is a profoundly important step forward that Teen Cancer America fully supports.”
“We must do everything we can to encourage dissemination of new research and evidence-based-medicine, as the average practicing doctor's medical knowledge is often years behind that of what is most recently published.”
“This critical legislation will establish a much needed limited population approval pathway to speed patient access to new antibacterial drugs that treat serious or life-threatening infections where an unmet medical need exists.”
The Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), has scheduled a hearing for Thursday, June 4, at 10:00 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled, “Examining H.R. 2017, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015.”
Subcommittee members will review H.R. 2017, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, legislation authored by committee member and Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA). This bipartisan legislation aims to provide clarity and flexibility for small businesses from some of the health care law’s most costly and burdensome regulations regarding menu-labeling requirements. The administration’s proposed menu labeling requirements are scheduled to be implemented by December 1, 2015.
The Majority Memorandum, a witness list, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) today issued the following statement regarding Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plans to include broadband in the Universal Service Fund’s Lifeline program:
“Broadband adoption creates countless opportunities for individuals and small businesses and is a welcome generator of economic growth and jobs. The time is ripe for reforming the Universal Service Fund to meet the communications and technology environment of the 21st century – unfortunately, this proposal misses the mark on the reforms we need,” said Upton and Walden, “We have long called for the need to cap the USF, and each fund within it, to ensure that ratepayer dollars are spent wisely. Simply expanding the program without ensuring its effectiveness or longevity is the wrong approach if we're going to do right by those who pay for the program, and those who depend on it.”
WASHINGTON, DC – Bipartisan leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee today wrote to seventeen auto manufacturers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requesting information about the industry’s plans to address cybersecurity challenges as new technologies are developed and vehicles and transportation infrastructure are becoming increasingly connected.
The leaders (listed below) are asking the manufacturers and NHTSA to respond to a series of questions as part of the committee’s ongoing oversight to ensure the industry and regulators are prepared for the emerging challenges of the 21st century.
The leaders wrote, “We are entering a new era in cybersecurity. The explosion of new, connected devices and services is exacerbating existing cybersecurity challenges and has introduced another potential consequence – the threat of physical harm – as products responsible for public health and safety are integrated into the Internet ecosystem. This will be a significant challenge for the automobile industry. The integration and convergence of transportation and communications technologies in connected cars offers tremendous opportunity for innovation, improved performance, convenience (e.g. in-vehicle Wi-Fi, infotainment systems, smartphone interface and/or integration, etc.) and safety (e.g. Vehicle-To-Vehicle, Vehicle-To-Infrastructure, Autonomous Vehicles, etc.). All of these features, however, provide a gateway for potential threats. …”
They continued, “Connected cars and advancements in vehicle technology present a tremendous opportunity for economic innovation, consumer convenience, and public health and safety. These benefits, however, depend on consumer confidence in the safety and reliability of these technologies. While threats to vehicle technology currently appear isolated and disparate, as the technology becomes more prevalent, so too will the risks associated with it. Threats and vulnerabilities in vehicle systems may be inevitable, but we cannot allow this to undermine the potential benefits of these technologies. The industry and NHTSA have an opportunity to prepare for the challenges that advanced vehicle technologies present, and to develop strategies to mitigate the risks.”
The letters were sent by:
In addition to NHTSA, letters were sent to the following manufacturers: GM, Ford, FCA North America, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Kia, Subaru, Mercedes Benz, Volvo, Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, and Tesla. The committee leaders are requesting responses by June 11, 2015.
To view copies of the letters and a full list of questions, click HERE.
WASHINGTON, DC – House Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) last night discussed the many open questions surrounding the recall of nearly 34 million Takata airbags on Fox Business Network’s The Willis Report. Burgess questioned why it has taken so long to understand the problem and whether replacement parts, if available, are tested and safe.
“We still don't know that there's a root cause that has been identified as to why these airbag ruptures are occurring and that is the underpinning, unsettling aspect of this investigation,” said Burgess.
Burgess also reminded viewers to check http://www.safercar.gov or with their local dealer to find out if their vehicle is included in the recall.
The subcommittee will be holding a hearing on the Takata airbag recall and response on Tuesday, June 2. Members will hear from:
Additional information will be posted here when it is available.
The Subcommittee on Energy and Power has scheduled a two-day hearing for Wednesday, June 3 and Thursday June 4. On June 3, the subcommittee will meet at 2:00 p.m. in room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building and on Thursday June 4, the subcommittee will reconvene at 10:15 a.m. in 2322 Rayburn. The hearing is entitled, “Discussion Draft on Accountability and Department of Energy Perspectives on Title IV: Energy Efficiency.” The hearing will examine Title IV’s Subtitle A on Energy Efficiency and Subtitle B on Accountability. Witnesses to be announced.
The broad efficiency proposal outlined in Subtitle A seeks to build upon the committee’s prior success in energy efficiency. The draft works to maximize the federal government’s energy and cost savings and encourage the private sector’s development and use of innovative energy efficient technologies. Subtitle B seeks to bring greater transparency, fairness, and certainty to energy market participants.
The two-day hearing comes on the heels of Energy Secretary Moniz’ testimony to the subcommittee on Tuesday, June 2. Moniz is expected to discuss the Quadrennial Energy Review’s findings and give testimony on relevant discussion drafts released by the committee as part of its comprehensive Architecture of Abundance energy legislation.
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield commented, “Our work to construct the Architecture of Abundance is on the fast track. The sooner we get the job done the sooner that we will realize the nation’s fullest energy potential – creating jobs and keeping prices affordable. Our important discussion on accountability and energy efficiency will round out what is shaping up to be a banner week in our continued efforts to bring our energy policies into the 21st century.”
To date, the subcommittee has released the following discussion drafts to be included in the committee’s energy bill: Title II: 21st Century Workforce, Title III: Energy Diplomacy, Strategic Petroleum Reserve Mission Readiness Plan, Title IV Energy Efficiency and Accountability, FERC Process Coordination, Hydropower Regulatory Modernization, and Energy Reliability and Security.
The Majority Memorandum and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.
BACKGROUND: The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted in 1976 to manage hazardouschemicals in commerce. However, TSCA has proven to be ineffective in providing adequate protections and facilitating U.S. chemical manufacturing and use – this is particularly true today, in the face of industry advancements and increased interstate commerce. Modernization of the law is necessary to improve protections for public health and the environment, to provide the public greater confidence in the safety of U.S. chemicals, and to promote further innovation and economic growth.
WHAT THE TSCA MODERNIZATION ACT WILL DO:
Provide EPA the tools to ensure chemicals in commerce are safer for consumers
Create a new system for EPA to evaluate and manage risks associated with chemicals already on the market
Set deadlines for EPA to take action
Ensure user fees paid to EPA for specific purposes are used just for those purposes
Provide limited preemption of state law
Maintain protection of confidential business information
WASHINGTON, DC – Bipartisan House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders this week formally introduced bipartisan legislation to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act to help improve chemical safety and management. H.R. 2576, the TSCA Modernization Act, is sponsored by Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL), Subcommittee Ranking Member Paul Tonko (D-NY), full Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), and full Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ).
The bipartisan legislation will reform the decades-old Toxic Substances Control Act to improve the protection of human health and the environment and to help better facilitate interstate and international commerce. The Environment and the Economy Subcommittee advanced a draft of the TSCA Modernization Act on May 14, by a vote of 21 to 0.
Upton, Pallone, Shimkus, and Tonko commented, “Modernizing our nation’s chemical safety laws for the 21st century has long been a top priority for the committee. This legislation represents the best of the Energy and Commerce Committee – we’re tackling the tough issues, engaging in thorough debate, and finding a bipartisan path forward. The TSCA Modernization Act improves protections for public health and the environment while encouraging continued innovation, growth, and American leadership in this vital economic sector. We look forward to working with our colleagues to get this breakthrough bill through committee and the House on a strong bipartisan vote.”
View text of H.R. 2576 HERE.
Learn more about the TSCA Modernization Act HERE.
The Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, chaired by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday, June 2, at 2:00 p.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled, “An Update on the Takata Airbag Ruptures and Recalls.”
This hearing will continue the subcommittee’s work to better understand the problems leading to the safety recall for nearly 34 million automobiles resulting from faulty Takata airbags. Members will also review the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s response as they seek answers about this ongoing safety issue. The subcommittee held a hearing in December to learn about the recall and the government’s response.
“We have endured a year of Takata ruptures and recalls and families are still at risk. No excuses. Michiganders, and all Americans, have a right to answers. When it comes to auto safety, ‘maybe’ is not an acceptable answer, and ‘later’ is not an acceptable timetable. It’s past time for Takata, NHTSA, and the manufacturers to explain to drivers what went wrong and how and when they can fix it.” said full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “When an airbag – a device built to enhance motorist safety – is actually putting families in peril, we can’t wait years for a fix. Summer driving and family vacations are underway and saying there might be an answer down the road is wrong. We will pressure everyone to move faster and restore safety as soon as possible.”
The Majority Memorandum, a witness list, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.
2125 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515