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Trains, planes, and a budget deal

Dear Research Advocate,

Our guest author this week is Jenny Luray, Research!America’s Senior Advisor.

Before traveling home for the August district work period, the House finally passed legislation to raise the budget caps by a vote of 284 – 149. Monday evening brought the welcome announcement that the White House and congressional leadership had reached a bipartisan, bicameral budget deal. The deal lifts the caps, increasing federal spending levels in FY2020 and FY2021, and also raises the debt ceiling. Specifically, the deal increases non-defense discretionary spending by $27 billion in FY20 and $2.5 billion in FY21. It prevents a $55 billion cut from occurring and instead bolsters the federal research and science agencies championed by the Research!America alliance.   

Your persistent advocacy helped to make this happen. You can read our statement and press quotes. The Senate will consider the budget bill next week. In the spirit of “it’s not over til it’s over,” please tweet at your Senators to share why you think they should support the deal.    

Also today, the Senate Finance Committee reported out legislation focused on prescription drug costs. The legislation changes parts of Medicare Part B and Part D, as well as Medicaid. This is one of several efforts in Washington to address medical costs which we are monitoring.  

The House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing room was the site of our July alliance member meeting. Committee staff for Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR) spoke about priorities such as implementation of comprehensive opioid legislation, HR 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act of 2018. They also answered a range of questions from alliance members about PCORI reauthorization, diagnostic test regulation, 2020 FDA user fee legislation, and other issues.  

As you know from previous Weekly Letters, Research!America is deeply concerned about HHS’s prohibition on the procurement of fetal tissue for NIH intramural research. To that end, Mary and Ellie recently authored a commentary in the widely-read Annals of Internal Medicine. We’re hopeful this piece will encourage more physicians to speak up on the importance of this critical research.  

Another complex issue being tackled by the research community is antibiotic resistance, which the CDC has deemed an urgent public health threat. This week, the Pentagon, HHS, and VenatoRx Pharmaceuticals Inc. agreed to jointly develop a new antibiotic to treat drug-resistant bacteria that cause hospital-acquired pneumonia and urinary tract infections. These kinds of public-private joint efforts are an important part of cracking the code to combat AMR. 

Speaking of public-private efforts, a number of Research!America alliance members from academia, the patient community and industry participated in last Friday’s workshop on real-world evidence (RWE) to advance cancer treatment. The workshop was organized by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in conjunction with the FDA Oncology Center of Excellence. Friends of Cancer Research discussed their cutting edge pilot project.

Real world evidence and public-private partnerships will be among the topics discussed by the FDA and other experts at our National Health Research Forum in Washington, D.C. on September 5, 2019. Registration is now open. Join us and a host of extraordinary leaders from across the R&D ecosystem. Do plan to be there!

Calling all science graduate and postdoctoral students: be on the lookout for the return of Research!America’s microgrant program to support engagement with public officials at all levels of government. More information to come! 


Jenny Luray