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  • Washington Highlights

    HELP Committee Democrats Propose Biomedical Innovation Fund

    Tannaz Rasouli, Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach

    Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, led by Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Patty Murray (Wash.), March 3 introduced the National Biomedical Research Act (S. 2624) to increase funding for targeted biomedical research initiatives through a new, reliable funding stream supporting the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

    The bill would create a Biomedical Innovation Fund, which would provide $5 billion per year in new funding to NIH and FDA for select initiatives in years when congressional appropriations to the agencies increase. The fund would supplement not supplant discretionary appropriations for NIH and FDA.

    In a statement, Sen. Warren said, “Federal investment in medical research saves lives, spurs innovation and boosts our economy - but ‎Congress has neglected these critical investments for more than a decade.‎” She added, “Any package of innovation bills coming out of the HELP Committee must include significant increases in funding for NIH and FDA. Anything less is just lip service.”

    Sen. Murray said, “With this legislation, our scientists and researchers will have the tools, resources, and certainty that are critical to tackling some of our most pressing medical challenges, from heart disease to cancer. There is bipartisan agreement on the need to boost investments in innovative medical research, so I hope that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle will join us to advance this legislation and offer hope to patients and families nationwide.”

    The funding would support specific initiatives such as Vice President Biden's National Cancer Moonshot, the Precision Medicine Initiative, grants for young emerging scientists, and other breakthrough research that will help accelerate the development and approval of new medicines, improve prevention, and increase understanding of life-threatening diseases.

    Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I..), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) are original co-sponsors of the bill.