Energy and Commerce Adopts Oversight Plan and Approves Protect Life Act, Additional Health Care Legislation

February 15, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - The House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), today adopted a Committee Oversight Plan for the 112th Congress and passed four pieces of health care legislation: the Protect Life Act, H.R. 358; the Veterinary Public Health Workforce and Education Act, H.R. 525; the Neglected Infections of Impoverished Americans Act, H.R. 528; and the Dental Emergency Responder Act, H.R.570.

"The committee's oversight efforts will focus on cutting government spending through the elimination of waste, fraud, and abuse; increasing individual liberty and personal freedom by identifying and eliminating burdensome government mandates and red tape; and promoting economic growth by fostering certainty and stability in the laws and regulations that affect job creation," said Chairman Upton.

The oversight plan includes provisions to examine how the recently-enacted health care law affects states, individuals, and innovation; the impact of government policies on the production and development of domestic energy resources; the effect of the Federal Communications Commission's decisions on innovation, access to information, and stimulus programs; and the potential economic impact of rulemaking under the Clean Air Act. The oversight plan was adopted by voice vote.

The Protect Life Act, authored by Health Subcommittee Chairman Pitts, prohibits federal funding of abortions and abortion coverage under the recently enacted health care law. The language is consistent with an amendment to the health care law adopted by the House in 2009, but excluded from the final law. The bill passed through the committee by a vote of 33 to 19.

"The current health care law leaves the door open for Hyde limitations to be dropped by a determined majority in one chamber of Congress or by a presidential veto," said Upton.  "The Protect Life Act, by contrast, provides greater certainty that the Hyde limitations will continue to apply to the health reform law, preserving the integrity of the President's stated intention, and most importantly, respecting the will of the majority of Americans who opposed taxpayer funded abortions."

The Dental Emergency Responders Act, authored by Rep. Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), allows, but does not require, the Secretary of Health and Human Services to incorporate dentists and dental facilities into disaster response planning.  The bill passed through the committee by voice vote.

The Neglected Infections of Impoverished Americans Act, authored by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), requires the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a study and report to Congress on six neglected parasitic diseases that are believed to be related to poverty.  The bill passed through the committee by voice vote.

The Veterinary Public Health Workforce and Education Act, authored by Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), allows those going into the field of veterinary public health to be eligible for an existing loan repayment program under the Public Health Service Act.  The bill passed through the committee by voice vote.

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