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  • Washington Highlights

    Senate Defense Authorization Bill Includes Provision Limiting DoD Biomedical Research

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

    The Senate Sept. 18 advanced an amended version of H.R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (NDAA) by a vote of 89-8. The bill includes language that would restrict funding for medical research carried out by the Department of Defense (DoD).

    The provision would limit funding for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) unless the research meets narrowly defined criteria.  This restrictive research language was not part of the House passed NDAA.

    In an attempt to block this language in the Senate bill, Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) introduced an amendment that would nullify the provision. However, despite having 53 bipartisan cosponsors, the Durbin-Blunt amendment was not brought up for a vote due to the lack of an agreement on an amendment process.

    The AAMC joined over 100 organizations in a July 27 sign on letter sent to Senate Armed Services Committee leadership urging inclusion of the Durbin-Blunt amendment (see Washington Highlights, July 28). The letter expressed concern that, “If enacted, this language could jeopardize funding for research activities that have broader relevance to the U.S. military, including the health and well-being of military families and veterans, and the efficiency of the military health care system.”

    The action in the Senate tees up House-Senate conference negotiations aimed at settling differences between the Senate- and the House-passed legislation. Congressional leaders will likely name conferees and begin working out a compromise package within the next few weeks.