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The Latest

From the Committee

Feb 1, 2023
Hearings
Chair Rodgers Opening Remarks on Investigating Pandemics

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy Rodgers (R-WA) delivered opening remarks at today’s Oversight and Investigations subcommittee hearing titled “Challenges and Opportunities to Investigating the Origins of Pandemics and Other Biological Events.

Excerpts and highlights below:

“Thank you, Chair Griffith, for convening this hearing about challenges and opportunities around investigating the origins of pandemics and other biological events and congratulations to becoming chair of this important subcommittee.

“Welcome too to Rep. Castor for taking over as Ranking Member.”

THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a catastrophe for the U.S. and the world.

“I think about the people who lost loved ones—many times without the chance to say goodbye, the first responders who worked around the clock, day and night, and every person who served on the front lines to provide hope and comfort in our communities.

“Government-enforced lockdowns and school closures have hurt our children’s well-being—mentally, physically, and academically.

“In addition, the pandemic cost the U.S. economy more than $15 trillion dollars.

“Consider the hundreds of thousands of people whose businesses were shuttered, whose livelihoods were uprooted, who lost everything.

“We owe it to every American to get to the bottom of the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

THE DIFFICULTIES IN INVESTIGATING COVID’19’S ORIGINS

“Investigating the origins of COVID-19 has been very difficult and challenging.

“Some of the hurdles we face are because of inherent scientific challenges. For reference, it took 13 years to determine the origins of the SARS outbreak.

“In addition, the Chinese government has lied to America and the global health community on information related to COVID-19.

“This is unacceptable and my hope is we will be able to join together in our search for the origins of the pandemic with the same bipartisan unity that an airplane crash investigation or other tragedy would receive.

“The lesson learned is that we have to treat investigating the origins of pandemics as a major part of pandemic preparedness, with a single point of accountability in the federal government.

“According to a paper recently released by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, ‘there does not appear to be a single office within the U.S. Government that owns the challenge of bioattribution.’

“We need a plan. We need a point person. We need greater accountability.”

GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE REPORT

“In response to a request from Energy and Commerce Republicans, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted a technical assessment on the origins of pandemics.

“This report examined: key technologies available for pandemic investigations; strengths and limitations of these tools; and the cross-cutting challenges researchers face in determining a pandemic’s origin.

“The GAO’s technical assessment is perhaps the first stand-alone document that addresses the issue of investigating the origins of pandemics in great detail.

“The need for pandemic origins determinations have been noted in other documents, but preparation for investigating the origins of a pandemic or other serious biological events has not been treated as a major component of biodefense strategy.

“The GAO detailed the difficulties with such investigations, including: lack of sufficient access to samples and genetic sequence data, lack of standardized processes for submitting, accessing, and using genetic sequence data, and lack of experts in certain fields.”

PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE

“Overall, we must be united in our efforts to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for future pandemics.

“It is the public health question of our generation.

“We cannot afford to be divided. It will hurt our ability to prepare for the next pandemic, which could be more severe.

“The evidence and experts tell us that the risks of pandemic are increasing for various reasons such as a surge in international travel, or more development in remote areas that leads to more human interaction with animals and novel viruses.

“We need to be better prepared.

“Our goal is for today’s hearing is to inform bipartisan efforts on this Committee to reauthorize pandemic preparedness legislation.

“I thank the witnesses for their participation, especially testifying in-person on short notice. We appreciate your cooperation.”


More News & Announcements


Feb 1, 2023
Hearings

Chair Rodgers Opening Remarks at Health Subcommittee Hearing

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) delivered the following opening remarks at today’s Health Subcommittee hearing titled: “ Lives Worth Living: Addressing the Fentanyl Crisis, Protecting Critical Lifelines, and Combatting Discrimination Against Those with Disabilities .”  As prepared for delivery: “Welcome to our legislative hearing titled, 'Lives Worth Living: Addressing the Fentanyl Crisis, Protecting Critical Lifelines, and Combatting Discrimination Against Those with Disabilities.' “We will hear from a diverse panel on how we can advance solutions that will help people in need of hope and healing in our communities."  FACES OF THE FENTANYL CRISIS “Last month, Energy & Commerce Republicans held a roundtable on the fentanyl crisis.    “We heard from Deb and Ray Cullen who lost their son, Zach.   “They told us they will never forget the moment the police showed up to their door asking if they were Zach’s parents.   “He was just 9 days past his 23rd birthday when he was targeted and poisoned by a drug dealer.    “Today, we’ll hear from Molly Cain from my hometown of Spokane, Washington.   “She lost her son Carson to a fentanyl poisoning when he was also 23 years old.   “Deb, Ray, and Molly have experienced immeasurable pain from losing their children, and they deserve justice.   “That is why Reps. Griffith and Latta are leading on the HALT Fentanyl Act.   “This bill would permanently place fentanyl-related substances into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and make sure that our law enforcement can keep these weapons-grade poisons off our streets.   “Unfortunately, the administration is proposing to treat these deadly poisons differently from fentanyl and other currently scheduled fentanyl related substances.   “The administration supports exempting the entire class from mandatory minimums that are typically imposed upon drug traffickers, preventing law enforcement from stopping those who bring deadly substances into our communities.    “If the temporary legislation were to expire, it would mean the criminals who killed people like Zach and Carson could keep trafficking these lethal substances with little consequences. So, let’s make it permanent.    “I am hopeful that we can work together on the both sides of the aisle will work with us to punish those who make, import, and distribute these poisons to our children.   “I also want to recognize Rep. Harshbarger’s leadership in introducing the Block, Report, And Suspend Suspicious Shipments Act.  “The opioid epidemic is fueled, in part, by suspiciously large shipments of pain medication being delivered across the country – particularly in places like Tennessee and West Virginia.    “This bill would help stop this practice and save lives by requiring drug manufacturers and distributors that discover a suspicious order for controlled substances to halt the order and report the information to DEA.”  PROTECTING CRITICAL LIFELINES “Additionally, just last month, we learned about a cyber-attack on the 9-8-8 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.   “This lifeline is a network of local crisis centers that provides emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.   “It’s a critical tool that was established by the bipartisan work of this Committee, and we must ensure that it is protected from future cyber threats.     “Rep. Obernolte’s 9-8-8 Lifeline Cybersecurity Responsibility Act would do just that – it requires coordination and reporting to improve cybersecurity protections for the 988 lifeline.”  COMBATTING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES “Finally, we will discuss why we must take action to protect people with disabilities with the Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act.   “It would ban Quality-Adjusted Life Years or QALYs that discriminate against people with disabilities and patients with debilitating or life-threatening health conditions.    “QALYs undervalue treatments for patients who have shorter life spans than others.   “In countries with QALY’s, the most vulnerable get pushed to the back of the line for treatment. People like those with cystic fibrosis, ALS, and people like my son with Down syndrome.   “The government says their lives don’t matter. They aren’t valuable enough.   “In America—where we have led the world in amazing medical breakthroughs and innovation—we must ban QALY’s and strongly affirm that every life is worth living.   “It is my sincere hope we can move forward on this bill in a bipartisan way.   “Families need hope—not a government that has power over life and death. “There is inherent dignity in every human life.     “That is what we are coming together around today in our first legislative hearing this Congress, and I look forward to learning more today on how we can work together to promote life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.”



Feb 1, 2023
Hearings

Chairs Rodgers, Griffith, and Guthrie Announce Joint Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee and Health Subcommittee Hearing on COVID-19 Response

Members Request Testimony from CDC, FDA, NIH, and ASPR Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA), and Health Subcommittee Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY) today announced a joint hearing of the Oversight and Investigations and Health subcommittees. It will focus on the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.    “With more than one million Americans lost to the pandemic and our government health agencies having lost the American public’s trust due to misguided mandates and lockdowns, it’s critical to thoroughly examine all aspects of the pandemic response. This is the first of a series of hearings and investigations that our committee will conduct. It’s imperative that we hear from these government health agencies to uncover what decisions were made and why, hold individuals accountable for errors, bolster our pandemic preparedness moving forward, and start on the long road to rebuilding public trust in our institutions.”    Joint Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and Subcommittee on Health Hearing Titled: “The Federal Response to COVID-19.”   WHAT : A hearing to examine and discuss the past, present, and future of the federal response to COVID-19.  DATE : Wednesday, February 8, 2023  TIME : 10:00 AM ET  LOCATION : 2123 Rayburn House Office Building  WITNESSES:    Dr. Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., PhD. , Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director, National Institutes of Health  The Honorable Robert Califf, M.D., Commissioner of Food and Drugs, U.S. Food and Drug Administration  Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  The Honorable Dawn O’Connell, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services  This notice is at the direction of the Chair. The hearing will be open to the public and press, and will be livestreamed onlin e at https://energycommerce.house.gov/ . If you have any questions concerning the hearing, please contact Lauren Eriksen or Jolie Brochin with the Committee staff at Lauren.Eriksen@mail.house.gov and Jolie Brochin@mail.house.gov .



Feb 1, 2023
Hearings

Health Subcommittee Chair Guthrie Opening Remarks at Health Subcommittee Hearing

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY) delivered the following opening remarks at today’s Health Subcommittee hearing titled: “ Lives Worth Living: Addressing the Fentanyl Crisis, Protecting Critical Lifelines, and Combatting Discrimination Against Those with Disabilities .”  As prepared for delivery: “As we turn the page on both 2022 and the 117th Congress, thousands of Americans and their families are still reeling from failures by this Administration and the last Congress to meaningfully address one of the greatest public health threats of our lifetimes: the fentanyl crisis.”  RISE OF FENTANYL   “Over the past several years, the United States has seen an historic rise of drug overdoses, driven by an increased supply of synthetic opioids, such as illicit fentanyl analogs. In 2021 alone, there were over 107,000 drug overdoses reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and over 60,000 of these were caused by synthetic opioids. My home state of Kentucky experienced a 14 percent jumped in drug overdose deaths between 2020 and 2021, with over 70 percent of these deaths being caused by fentanyl alone. You sadly cannot go a week without reading or hearing about stories of mothers, sons, sisters, brothers, cherished friends, and even babies, losing their lives to a fentanyl overdose.  "How could this be possible? We don’t have to look farther than the crisis right now at our southern border. Since October of last year, our border patrol authorities have already seized over 7,000 pounds of illicit fentanyl at our Southwest Border. This is on top of the over 14,000 pounds of illicit fentanyl seized the year prior. The dual crises, both the fentanyl and border crisis, have effectively turned every community across the United States into a border community." HALT FENTANYL ACT   “Fortunately, this very subcommittee has the ability to take action and do what we know will work to help keep illicit fentanyl out of our communities and save lives. One of the bills before us here today, H.R. 467, the Halt All Lethal Trafficking of Fentanyl Act, also known as the HALT Fentanyl Act, would take the critical step of permanently scheduling all fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Services Act. Congress has enacted temporary extensions several times over the last few years. These continued temporary solutions are not sustainable – we need a permanent solution and must pass the HALT Fentanyl Act now. Doing so will be my top priority for as long as I am Chair of the Health Subcommittee.  “I want to address the demand for illegal and dangerous drugs here in the United States while simultaneously focusing on support for recovery resources for those who want help. We will have an opportunity later this year to reauthorize key parts of the SUPPORT Act and will be able to examine how to get people into recovery and keep them safe. But if we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that these illicit fentanyl analogs are an entirely different class of drugs than any other deadly substances that our country has faced thus far and have the ability to make other illegal drugs that much more lethal.”  BLOCK, REPORT, AND SUSPEND SUSPICIOUS SHIPMENTS ACT   “Further, The Block, Report, and Suspend Suspicious Shipments Act, introduced by one of our newest Subcommittee members Representative Harshbarger, would also address the overdose crisis. This bill would require drug manufacturers and distributors to report all suspicious of controlled substances to the Drug Enforcement Agency and require these entities to decline to fill such orders. Fighting the overdose epidemic necessitates a multipronged approach and a strong partnership between the public and private sectors, which this legislation accomplishes. I thank Representative Harshbarger for leading on this issue.  “The other important pieces of legislation before us today are equally as focused on protecting the sanctity of life. The 9-8-8 Lifeline Cybersecurity Act would ensure that the lifesaving 9-8-8 suicide and crisis hotline is protected from cyber vulnerabilities. This comes after the lifeline suffered a cyber-attack, in early December, which resulted in an hours-long outage of the lifeline. This cannot happen again, and I look forward to moving this bill through committee.  “Finally, we are examining legislation to permanently ban the use of quality-adjusted life years in all publicly funded health care programs, like Medicare and Medicaid. It is long overdue for Congress to take the necessary step of banning QALYs, which the Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act that’s before us today would finally achieve. Such policies arbitrarily put a value on someone’s life and are especially discriminatory toward those living with disabilities. A life worth living is always a life worth saving, regardless of someone’s health status. I know this bill is personally very important to Chair Rodgers.  “I urge all of my colleagues on the subcommittee to support these four bills before us today.”


Trending Subcommittees

Innovation, Data, and Commerce


3 Updates

Interstate and foreign commerce, including all trade matters within the jurisdiction of the full committee; consumer protection, including privacy matters generally; data security; motor vehicle safety; regulation of commercial practices (the Federal Trade Commission), including sports-related matters; consumer product safety (the Consumer Product Safety Commission); product liability; and regulation of travel, tourism, and time. The Subcommittee’s jurisdiction can be directly traced to Congress’ constitutional authority “to regulate Commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”


Communications & Technology


2 Updates

Electronic communications, both Interstate and foreign, including voice, video, audio and data, whether transmitted by wire or wirelessly, and whether transmitted by telecommunications, commercial or private mobile service, broadcast, cable, satellite, microwave, or other mode; technology generally; emergency and public safety communications; cybersecurity, privacy, and data security; the Federal Communications Commission, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the Office of Emergency Communications in the Department of Homeland Security; and all aspects of the above-referenced jurisdiction related to the Department of Homeland Security.


Energy, Climate, & Grid Security


11 Updates

National Energy Policy, energy infrastructure and security, energy related Agencies and Commissions, all laws, programs, and government activities affecting energy matters. National Energy Policy focuses on fossil energy; renewable energy; nuclear energy; energy conservation, utility issues, including but not limited to interstate energy compacts; energy generation, marketing, reliability, transmission, siting, exploration, production, efficiency, cybersecurity, and ratemaking for all generated power. Energy infrastructure and security focuses on pipelines, the strategic petroleum reserve, nuclear facilities, and cybersecurity for our nation’s grid. Our jurisdiction also includes all aspects of the above-referenced jurisdiction related to the Department of Homeland Security. Agencies and Commissions in our jurisdiction include: The US Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.


Recent Letters


Jan 18, 2023
Press Release

Chair Rodgers: GAO Gain-of-Function Research Report Affirms Our Concerns with HHS P3CO Framework

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) offered the following statement after the Government Accountability Office issued a report titled “ HHS Could Improve Oversight of Research Involving Enhanced Potential Pandemic Pathogens ,” which is commonly referred to as “gain-of-function" research.  “Today’s watchdog report affirms many of my concerns with the secretive HHS board that purportedly reviews risky research projects from federal agencies. So far, the risky research proposals of concern only appear to be funded by the National Institutes of Health, specifically by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The American public deserve to know to what extent their tax dollars are being used to fund pathogenic research that has the potential to cause a pandemic. Whether or not the U.S. government played any role—directly or indirectly—in the creation of COVID-19, our committee’s investigation is uncovering a host of issues that require more attention. Thankfully, we were able to enact some commonsense prohibitions regarding where and how this type of research is funded, but we will continue pushing for more accountability and oversight to start rebuilding public trust in these research agencies.”  KEY EXCERPT FROM GAO REPORT : By working with its funding agencies to identify and share non-sensitive information about how HHS, in coordination with its funding agencies, conducts reviews and makes funding recommendations, researchers, Congress, and the public would have greater assurance that departmental review provides meaningful and effective suggestions to address biosafety and biosecurity concerns about research involving enhanced potential pandemic pathogens. Moreover, doing so could enhance public confidence in the department’s oversight as well as ensure the agency’s goal to exemplify and promote the highest level of scientific integrity, public accountability, and social responsibility in the conduct of science.  Chair Rodgers, along with Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA) wrote to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xaiver Becerra in April of 2022, raising concerns on the “flawed and overly secretive review process of whether risky research for potential pandemic pathogens can be conducted safely and have a justifiable benefit.”  KEY LETTER EXCERPT : “Dr. Chris Hassell, the HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and the chair of the HHS P3CO review committee, briefed the committee staff twice during the summer of 2021. During the briefings, when asked about the identities of the members, Dr. Hassell did not provide the names of the members of the review group. However, he indicated which agencies or departments were represented on the HHS P3CO Review Committee. Dr. Hassell noted there were members from the NIH on the review committee, but he specifically pointed out that the NIH members were from the Office of the Director and not from any of the NIH institutes or centers that would be funding entities to avoid conflict-of-interest concerns.   “The minority committee staff requested that HHS provide the names and affiliations of all members of the HHS P3CO review committee. In response, HHS provided some of the names of the HHS P3CO review committee, but on a confidential basis because of personal security concerns.”  You can read the full letter here . 



Jan 17, 2023
In the News

ICYMI: E&C Republicans Turn Up the Heat and Demand Biden Stop Efforts to Ban Gas Stoves

President Biden wants to control every aspect of our lives—from what kind of cars we can drive, how we can heat our homes, and now how we’re allowed to cook food for our families. Last week, it was reported that the Biden administration is looking to ban gas stoves from American homes across the country. This is just the latest in a long line of power grabs by the radical Left. It's not about public safety, but rather about telling the American people the federal government knows what’s best. Nearly 35% of homes in the U.S. – more than 40 million Americans – use a natural gas stove. That’s why Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and 86 of her House Republican colleagues sent a letter to President Biden demanding the administration reverse any attempts to ban gas stoves. Chair Rodgers also sent a letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) echoing these concerns.  Highlights and excerpts from the Fox Business exclusive coverage on the letter to President Biden : Furious lawmakers are calling on President Biden to cease any efforts by his administration to ban natural gas stoves inside Americans' homes. Republicans on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent a letter to the president Friday writing in "strong opposition" to reported efforts by regulators to ban natural gas appliances. "This kind of intrusion into the homes of Americans by the federal government as a way of forcing rush-to-green, liberal policies is the ‘nanny state’ at its worst," the Republicans wrote. "Banning natural gas stoves is not about public safety – it is another example of government control; like other policies we have seen from your administration, to tell Americans what kinds of cars they can drive, how they heat their homes, and how to live their lives." The Biden administration caused an uproar over gas stoves earlier this week after a commissioner on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) suggested regulators were considering banning the appliance due to health and safety concerns. From E&E News : House Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) is already making plans to bring the issue before her committee. “I’m quite concerned,” Rodgers told E&E News. “I think we need to dig into this more and probably bring them in and ask some questions.” CLICK HERE to read Chair Rodgers’ January 11th statement on President Biden’s plan to ban gas stoves. CLICK HERE to read House Republicans’ January 13th letter to President Biden. CLICK HERE to read Chair Rodgers’ January 13th letter to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Alexander Hoehn-Saric.



Dec 20, 2022
Letter

ICYMI: E&C Republicans Question Peer-to-Peer Delivery Services on Fentanyl Deliveries

Last year, more than 100,000 individuals died from drug overdoses with 71,000 lives lost due to overdoses caused by fentanyl or its analogues. Many of the transactions of this dangerous drug have been facilitated online. In response to recent reports of Uber Connect being used to deliver drugs, House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican leaders sent letters questioning peer-to-peer (P2P) delivery services on what actions they’re taking to prevent their services from being used for transporting illegal drugs, including illicit fentanyl.  In the letters, led by Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Republican Leader Bob Latta (R-OH), Subcommittee on Health Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Republican Leader Morgan Griffith (R-VA), and Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce Republican Leader Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), the members highlight the story of Ann Portillo, who lost her 22-year-old daughter, Alex, to a fentanyl poisoning. Alex received the drugs through Uber Connect.  Letters were sent to the CEOs of Uber, Lyft, Roadie, and Alto.  NBC News reported exclusively on the letters:   NBC— House Republicans sent a letter Thursday to Uber asking the tech company to explain what steps it is taking in response to drivers' complaints that they’re being asked to deliver packages they suspect to be drugs.   The letter from members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee cites reporting from NBC News that described the concerns of drivers as well as the case of a 22-year-old Arizona woman who died from an overdose of fentanyl that her mother said was delivered via Uber Connect, a courier service that the San Francisco-based ride-hailing app started at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic so that people could send small items across town.   […]   The letter asks Uber to explain what actions the company has taken in response to drivers' complaints about suspected drugs; how the company would work with law enforcement in such a scenario; how many accounts Uber has deactivated as a result of users sending prohibited items; what information Uber collects about packages; and many other questions.   “Just as we have asked social media companies to do their part to curb the sale of drugs on their platforms, Uber must act to ensure Uber Connect is not used to transport untracked shipments of illicit drugs to Americans,” the lawmakers wrote.   The Hill— They said they have supported the development of new technologies and the benefits that the gig economy provides people, but noted that bad actors might take advantage of the service to send harmful products to unaware recipients.   The representatives said that GOP members of the committee previously sent letters to the heads of social media companies on their responsibility to address the spread of fentanyl but that the “crisis” is not just limited to the scope of such companies.   They asked for information including an explanation of the agreement terms for participants of Uber Connect, the number of accounts that have been deactivated after shipping packages with prohibited contents and what information from the sender and recipient Uber Connect gathers.   CLICK HERE to read the full letter to Uber.  CLICK HERE to read the full letter to Lyft.  CLICK HERE to read the full letter to Roadie.  CLICK HERE to read the full letter to Alto.