House and Senate negotiators Nov. 8 agreed to remove language in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year (FY) 2018 that would restrict the Department of Defense (DOD)’s Congressional Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP).
Senate Armed Services Committee Chair John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-R.I.), along with House Armed Services Committee Chair Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) Nov. 8 announced the final NDAA conference agreement (H.R. 2810, H. Rept. 115-200) through a press statement.
The language removed in the final report was included in the Senate amended version of H.R. 2810 and not originally included in the House passed bill. These provisions aimed to prohibit funding for medical research by DOD unless such research met specifically defined criteria. Additionally, the language would have added extensive acquisition compliance and additional auditing requirements on the DOD medical research program.
Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) Nov. 8 highlighted the agreement to strike the CDMRP restrictions saying, “This is fantastic news for our military, their families, university researchers, medical advocates, and the bipartisan coalition in Congress that supports these life-saving programs.”
During the Senate NDAA debate, AAMC July 28 joined over 100 organizations on community letter expressing support for a bipartisan amendment offered by Senators Durbin (D-Ill.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) to nullify the provisions [see Washington Highlights, July 28].
While the final deal strikes the language that would have narrowed research supported by DOD, the conference report expresses concern over the “pressure these increased funds inadvertently place on other defense priorities as a result of budget caps.” Additionally, the conferees encourage DOD to fund “only those medical research and development projects that protect and enhance military readiness or restore the health and safety of members of the Armed Forces” and suggest that DOD “develop a strategic plan for all medical research to ensure synergy and efficiency across the military departments as well as other federal agencies.”