The AAMC May 15 sent a letter thanking Rep. David Rouzer (R-N.C.) for his amendment seeking to provide the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) more flexibility in the timing of on-site inspections of universities under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Specifically, Rep. Rouzer introduced an amendment to H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, which would modify the provision for on-site inspections under AWA to occur at least once every three years, rather than annually, for those university research programs subject to the Act.
In its letter, the AAMC cited a report from a 2017 workshop held jointly by the AAMC, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR), and the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) to address regulatory burden and effectiveness in the care and protection of animals used in medical research. This workshop was in response to the 21st Century Cures Act direction to federal agencies to review and revise these regulations.
In thanking Rep. Rouzer, the AAMC noted that the amendment, by increasing the flexibility of federal oversight to focus on areas of most concern, is in line with the recommendations in the 2017 report. The letter notes that “[the associations’] goal [is] to ensure that the regulatory infrastructure enables facilities to more effectively provide care for and to protect the welfare of the animals used in life-saving medical research. We appreciate your amendment, which would help move USDA closer toward this risk-based model, while preserving a strong commitment to animal welfare.”
The Rules Committee did not include the amendment among those that were considered when members debated H.R. 2 on the House floor. The larger package, H.R. 2, did not gain enough votes to pass the House, 198-213. Lawmakers will need to bring H.R. 2 or other legislation to reauthorize a number of farm subsidies and other related programs to a vote again before the programs expire Sept. 30.