21st Century Cures Act clears House

Federal Relations E-Newsletter

With only three weeks remaining until August recess, Congress is hastening its pace to pass bills that will resonate well with constituents, including a medical innovation bill.

Cures Bill Clears House

The 21st Century Cures Act, which has drummed up the support of 230 cosponsors—including 15 Illinois delegation House Members—was approved in the House last Friday by an overwhelming margin. Intended to speed up the pathway for new treatments and drug discoveries, it has solid backing from the biomedical research advocacy community.

Although the bill that made it to the floor slightly scaled back the original amount of funding authorized for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it still calls for a sizeable boost. On top of authorizing three annual spending increases, it would create a $8.75 billion “Innovation Fund” for NIH, directing an additional $1.75 billion a year over five years to NIH from the mandatory side of the federal budget. Despite an effort to switch the funding mechanism from the mandatory side of the budget to the discretionary side, opposition from the biomedical research community helped defeat that attempt.

Several Members made floor speeches, including Illinois Rep. John Shimkus, a senior member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, where the legislation was developed.

The pressure is now on the Senate to act. They have not yet introduced their own version.

ACES Research Academy Members Engage Agencies

Thirteen early-career faculty visited DC as members of the 2015 Research Academy, which is run by the Office of Research within Urbana’s College of ACES. The assistant professors began their visit by meeting with OGR and Lewis-Burke Associates to learn about the federal budget landscape and agency priorities. They spent the next few days sharing their research interests with program officers at various federal agencies, including USDA, NSF, and NIH.

The group was led by the director of the academy, Elvira de Mejia, as well as Kathy Partlow, and Prasanta Kalita. The Research Academy members included: Rabin Bhattarai, Maria Chu, Todd Kuethe, Andrew Steelman, Alex Lipka, Cameron PittelkowZeynep Madak-Erdogan, Tara Powell, Kate Wegmann, Rosalba Hernandez, Elizabeth Driskell, Fabio Lima, and Igor Canisso.

Urbana’s Center for Global Studies Brings International Educators to DC

As part of a Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) grant from the State Department, Urbana’s Center for Global Studies led a group of 17 secondary educators from all over the world to DC to learn about the federal policymaking process.

Now in its third year, the grant has allowed the Center for Global Studies—a Department of Education Title VI National Resources Center—to host a comprehensive 6-week academic program for international educators each year that entails workshops, local site visits, and educational “study tours” to historic American cities like DC.

In addition to meetings at the State Department and Department of Education, they met with the office of Sen. Dick Durbin, where they heard about the inner workings of Congress and current efforts to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Urbana’s Jeffrey Friedman, Jeremie Smith, Terri Gitler, and Natasha Murray accompanied the group.

Thank you,

Melissa Haas | Acting Director | OGR Federal Relations