House over­whelm­ingly passes med­i­cal spend­ing pro­posal

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - — Tom How­ell Jr. — Dave Boyer

The House eas­ily ap­proved a med­i­cal-in­no­va­tion bill Wed­nes­day that fast­tracks reg­u­la­tory ap­proval of ground­break­ing drugs, ush­ers in bi­par­ti­san men­tal health re­forms and pro­vides $1 bil­lion to tackle Amer­ica’s pre­scrip­tion-painkiller and heroin epi­demic.

The $6.3-bil­lion pack­age en­joys sup­port from the White House and passed on a 392-26 vote, heap­ing pres­sure on the Se­nate to fol­low suit de­spite con­cerns from pro­gres­sives who say the bill still short­changes un­der­funded agen­cies and amounts to a “handout” for drug com­pa­nies.

The leg­is­la­tion, dubbed 21st Cen­tury Cures, pro­vides nearly $5 bil­lion for the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health to ac­cel­er­ate re­search into ma­jor dis­eases, in­clud­ing $1.8 bil­lion for Vice Pres­i­dent Joseph R. Bi­den’s “moon­shot” project on cancer, and $500 mil­lion for the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion to make its ap­proval process more ef­fi­cient.

“The clock is tick­ing. Pa­tients don’t have time. They want an­swers, they want cures,” said Rep. Fred Up­ton, Michi­gan Repub­li­can and Energy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee chair­man.

How­ever, Se­nate Democrats com­plain that it of­fers no fi­nan­cial re­lief to con­sumers strug­gling with sky­rock­et­ing pre­scrip­tion drug prices. “We don’t have a bill yet, OK?” Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Harry Reid said.

She said the note was sent in re­sponse to con­cerns about clut­ter.

“Dur­ing this process, they iden­ti­fied a fully closed card­board box con­tain­ing a dis­man­tled Christ­mas tree along with other stored hol­i­day decor. An email was sent in an ef­fort to iden­tify the owner of the box, and it was claimed shortly there­after,” she said.

But an­other su­per­vi­sor had is­sued an ur­gent memo that some em­ploy­ees called ev­i­dence of “tone deaf” man­age­ment on white­wash­ing Christ­mas.

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