The Senate voted (93-7) to approve the second “minibus” package for FY19. As noted in the chart on page 4, the Labor-HHS/Defense package (inclusive of NIH, CDC, AHRQ and the Department of Defense CDMRP) provides a $2 billion increase for NIH as well as modest net increases for CDC and AHRQ. With less than one week before the beginning of FY19, the House also voted (361-61) to approve the package, which was signed by the President on September 28.
The minibus also contained a continuing resolution (CR) for a number of agencies, including NSF (under the jurisdiction of CJS), set to run through December 7. The CR was included to allow for more time to negotiate unresolved issues such as border wall funding. It is unclear, with midterm elections approaching, how long it will take for negotiators to reach a consensus on these outstanding issues and how long into FY19 these agencies can expect flat funding. Although it appeared that an agreement was close, lawmakers were unable to finalize details on the “minibus” package for Interior-Environment, Financial Services, Agriculture (inclusive of FDA) and Transportation-HUD prior to the September 30 deadline. This bill will also be subjected to a CR running through December 7.
Joint House-Senate Opioid legislation has cleared Congress and awaits the President’s signature. The compromise bill includes an array of initiatives, including strategies for stopping the flow of synthetic opioids into the nation, providing better treatment and prescribing policies, and bolstering research into non-addictive pain treatment and neonatal abstinence syndrome.
Proposed regulations required under the 21st Century Cures Act to prevent “information blocking,” which refers to situations in which an entity impedes the appropriate sharing of health data, have been sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. Clarity on the provision had faced several delays, however, now that it has been sent to OMB, federal law requires the rule to be published within 90 days.
The White House released a new biodefense strategy calling for the acceleration of basic and applied research as well as the development of new antimicrobials, vaccines, and diagnostics. The plan, which specifically addresses biological threats such as antimicrobial resistance, aims to better coordinate and strengthen biodefense functions across the Executive Branch.