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Feb 1, 2023
Hearings

Subcommittee Chair Griffith Opening Remarks on Investigating Pandemics

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) delivered opening remarks at today’s subcommittee hearing titled “ Challenges and Opportunities to Investigating the Origins of Pandemics and Other Biological Events. ” Excerpts and highlights below:  THE DAMAGE COVID-19 CAUSED   “Good afternoon, everyone and welcome to our first Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Hearing of the 118th Congress. I would like to congratulate Ranking Member Kathy Castor on her appointment.  “This afternoon’s subcommittee hearing will explore the importance of pandemic origin investigations as a means of bolstering our country’s pandemic preparedness and biodefense capabilities.  “To date, over one million Americans have died from COVID-19. The pandemic brought our country to a standstill. It cost our economy around $15 trillion dollars in economic damage.   “Businesses were shut down, schools were closed. The nation is still recovering from the pandemic’s impact and the damage it caused.   “It has been a little over three years since COVID-19 emerged and questions on its origins remain. Given the toll the virus has taken, that is unacceptable.”   CONCERNS SURROUNDING RISKY RESEARCH   “I believe the substantial circumstantial evidence favors COVID-19 emerging due to a research-related incident.  “But this committee will continue to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic since we have jurisdiction over public health and federal biomedical research.  “Today, though, we will look beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and understand what structures, technologies, and capacities are needed to more clearly investigate the origins of disease outbreaks in the future. “Being able to quickly identify the root cause of a disease outbreak or biological incident has important benefits ranging from countermeasure development to differentiating between whether an outbreak was due to a deliberate release, an accidental release, or a natural event.   “By all accounts, the risk of catastrophic biological incidents and infectious disease pandemics is increasing.   “As the world becomes more connected, barriers that once helped limit disease from spreading across the globe are removed. Further, human-animal interactions are increasing as well.   “The last two decades have seen a global proliferation of laboratories conducting research on potential pandemic pathogens, increasing the possibility that future pandemics may have a research-related origin.  “Of the approximately 60 bio-safety level 4 labs, which are designed to work on the most dangerous of pathogens, around the globe, at least 20 have been built in the last decade. More than 75 percent of these labs are located in urban centers where a virus, if it escaped, could spread with ease.   “As an aside, the Wuhan Institute of Virology appears to have conducted at least some high-risk coronavirus research at a biosafety level 2 lab.   “In the United States, we have recently seen high-risk research done to intentionally modify pathogens, such as NIH’s experiments to enhance monkeypox’s virulence, as well as conflicting reports as to what coronavirus research Pfizer is conducting to anticipate future variants.”   PREVENTING THE NEXT PANDEMIC   “Although there’s little we can do to predict the timing of the next outbreak, there’s a lot we can do now to prepare for the next outbreak.  “Currently, there is no coordinated whole of government plan for investigating the origins of a disease outbreak or a biological incident. However, as our witnesses will testify today, a coordinated approach across the government, academia, and the private sector is needed.   “The focus of today’s hearing will be a Government Accountability Office (GAO) technical assessment on technologies and challenges for investigating the origins of pandemics.   “This study was conducted at the request of all 26 Republican members on the Committee in June 2021, and is based on insights GAO gained by working with the National Academies of Science and the leading pandemic experts in the U.S.   “This GAO report is significant because it is believed to be the first stand-alone, detailed document that specifically identifies what technologies and areas of scientific expertise are needed to conduct rigorous pandemic origin investigations.   “Existing pandemic preparedness plans have mentioned the need for investigating the origins of pandemics but have neither spelled out the challenges nor the specifics for how to conduct an effective probe.  “One of the challenges laid out in the report is the need for investigators to have more access to samples from early cases in order to be effective in determining the pandemic’s origin. We must address this issue since some government organizations, including the Government of the Chinese Communist Party, have a history of withholding this type of information.   “This report and upcoming hearing can provide the basis for a bipartisan effort to improve our biodefense strategies by incorporating details on investigative approaches and taking the recommended actions.   “Speaking for the Republicans on this subcommittee, we look forward to working with our Democrat colleagues constructively to deliver solutions and pave a path forward for America to work in common purpose for the greater good.  “I eagerly await today’s discussion and learning more about how best to address these complex issues. I thank the witnesses for being here today and being part of this important discussion.” 



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

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.”



Chairs Rodgers’ Opening Remarks on Strengthening American Competitiveness and Beating China

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) delivered opening remarks at today’s Innovation, Data, and Commerce subcommittee hearing titled “Economic Danger Zone: How America Competes to Win the Future Versus China.”  Excerpts and highlights below:   “Welcome to the inaugural first hearing of the Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee for the 118th Congress.   “I’d like to congratulate my good friend, Gus Bilirakis, the new Chair of this Subcommittee and would also congratulate my good friend Tim Walberg, the new Vice Chair of the Subcommittee.”  FIGHTING TO WIN THE FUTURE   “This committee plays a vital role in advancing American competitiveness and global technological leadership.   “It’s critical that we use this panel to ensure that America -- not China -- is setting rules of the road for technologies of tomorrow.   “It’s no secret the CCP wants to replace the U.S. as a global economic and technological power.   “Whether it’s artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, or smart devices, China wants to dominate these new and emerging technologies.  “But China’s vision of the future is not one that welcomes American values, values like freedom of speech, privacy, entrepreneurial enterprise, individual rights, or the rule of law.   “The CCP, on the other hand, spies on its citizens and asserts strict government control over businesses and the economy.   “We need to make sure these technologies of the future are developed in an ecosystem that promotes America’s values, not China’s.    “This is not a race we can afford to let them win.”   PRIVACY   “We must work together to cement America’s global technological leadership.  “We should start by passing comprehensive privacy and data security protections with one national standard.    “We made history last year when we passed the bipartisan, bicameral American Data Privacy and Protection Act 53-2.    “But our work isn’t over yet, as we have already fallen behind other countries in establishing a national privacy law   “I want to thank Mr. Pallone, Ms. Schakowsky, and of course Mr. Bilirakis for their leadership on this.’m eager to continue that work. This is a top priority for Americans and needs to be achieved through Congress.”  WINNING THE FUTURE   “It’s important that we also take action to ensure the development and deployment of autonomous vehicles.   “The regulatory framework for AVs must be led by the U.S.    “Again, this comes down to our values vs. The CCP’s. America values the importance of the safety of our citizens – China does not. We value our workforce and free market economics – China does not. We value civil society groups, and their right to speak freely – China does not.   “To win the future, the U.S. must lead on AVs. We must chart the path so the road is one we design.   “This can be the year we finally push past the barriers which have derailed the SELF DRIVE Act and other legislation from becoming law.  “We can also build on the American COMPETE Act, legislation I sponsored in the 116th Congress, on promoting emerging technologies, which was enacted with provisions from many members of this committee.”   ENCOURAGE INNOVATION AND REMOVE RED TAPE   “The best way to beat China is to spur innovation and remove unnecessary, burdensome regulatory barriers. We cannot, and shouldn’t even try, to beat China at their own game of massive government handouts and centralized industrial policy.   “We won’t outspend them and authorizing billions of taxpayer dollars without removing burdensome red tape will only lead to waste.   “Instead, we need to encourage innovation, ingenuity, and entrepreneurship, the backbones of our economy, and that can only be achieved with a government that encourages low barriers to entry for innovative technologies and startups and the adoption of emerging technologies that will improve people’s lives.    “Ensuring federal agencies' actions don’t put undue burden on businesses and innovators will be a top priority this Congress.”   “Whether it’s ensuring people’s online information is secure, charting an achievable path towards AV development and deployment in the U.S., or setting the global standards for AI and other emerging technologies, this subcommittee is at the center of it.  “I look forward to working with every member on this panel to preserve our global leadership, strengthen our economic and national security, and beat China... my door is always open.  “I want to thank all the witnesses for your being here today.   “Your testimony will be crucial in educating our work moving forward this Congress.” 



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.”



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

Subcommittee Chair Bilirakis Opening Remarks on Competing with China

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) delivered opening remarks at today’s subcommittee hearing titled “ Economic Danger Zone: How America Competes to Win the Future Versus China .” Excerpts and highlights below: WINNING THE FUTURE “Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the first hearing for the Innovation, Data, and Commerce subcommittee for the 118th Congress. “I’d like to thank the Chair of the Full Committee for selecting me to Chair this important panel and I would also like to congratulate Cathy McMorris Rodgers for being the first woman to serve as the Chair of the powerful Committee on Energy and Commerce – the oldest standing legislative committee in the House – and the best too I’ll add. “I also want to identify our new Republican Members of the Subcommittee. Mr. Allen from Georgia, Mr. Fulcher from Idaho, Miss Harshbarger from Tennessee, Miss Cammack from the greatest state of all, Florida, and Mr. Duncan from South Carolina. I’m glad to see you have made your way back to this Subcommittee. “Finally I want to thank my esteemed colleague, Tim Walberg from the great state of Michigan, for serving as Vice Chair of this Committee. I’m greatly looking forward to working with Mr. Walberg and appreciate his partnership. “Ranking Member Schakowsky, I’m glad to see you leading this Subcommittee for our friends across the aisle. We worked very well together last Congress, moving important initiatives to the President’s desk. This included legislative wins like the INFORM Consumers Act, which will protect consumers from stolen and counterfeit goods online – including those coming from China, and my bill the RANSOMWARE Act, which requires the FTC to submit recommendations on how to make America more resilient from ransomware and cyber-attacks specifically from cross-border foreign threats like China and Russia.” BEATING CHINA “Today’s hearing focuses on the greatest threat to our country right now – China. So, it is fitting that to begin the 118th Congress we focus on this threat and discuss how to recapture and maintain our global leadership. “The CCP will stop at nothing to undermine our global leadership and weaken our economy. They have bought up our farmlands, stolen our intellectual property, and embedded themselves deep within many of our supply chains. Now they are turning their attention towards establishing the global standards for emerging technologies. “The CCP has invested heavily in Artificial Intelligence and other emerging technologies. Paired with this investment, China is creating favorable environments for their private sector companies and entrepreneurs to deploy and test these technologies.” ENHANCING AMERICAN INNOVATION AND COMPETITIVENESS “This has forced many American companies with a global footprint and American entrepreneurs with cutting-edge ideas to consider a hard decision: whether to move their operations from American to Chinese shores. It’s also allowing Chinese companies to invest and expand further, potentially endangering our own infrastructure and data security. Waiting any further on a national framework is weakening our stance by the day – and time is of the essence. “It is imperative that this committee establishes foundational frameworks for deploying emerging technologies. We came close last Congress when we passed the bipartisan and bicameral American Data Privacy and Protection Act, but this Congress we need to ensure it gets across the finish line because China is not waiting on us to influence international norms and standards. “I look forward to working with Chair Rodgers, Ranking Members Schakowsky and Pallone, and the members of this Committee to finish what we started. We need to get this done for the American people and ensure our nation remains a leader in global technology standards. “The American people are the most innovative in the world. It is our job in Congress to ensure that we eliminate bureaucratic red tape that has too often hampered innovation in the marketplace. “For something like Autonomous Vehicles, that will help Senior Citizens and Americans living with disabilities, it means reducing barriers to testing, and setting the standards for how they will be adopted across the world, and provide certainty for businesses and consumers. “America’s global leadership depends on its people to be best in class, and we must give them the regulatory certainty on emerging technologies they need in order to live up to their legacy. If we fail, America will be left behind and our competitors like China will leave us in the dust. “I am eager to hear from our panel of experts today on such a critical topic.”



Jan 31, 2023
Press Release

Chairs Rodgers, Smith and Reps. Burgess, Wenstrup Introduce Legislation to Ban QALYs

Bill Would Protect Individuals with Disabilities from Discrimination  Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-MO), and GOP Doctors Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Brad Wenstrup, D.P.M. (R-OH), and Rep. Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), announced introduction of H.R. 485, the Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act , which would expand access to lifesaving cures and prevent discrimination against Americans with disabilities. The House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health will consider the bill at a February 1, 2023, legislative hearing titled: “ Lives Worth Living: Addressing the Fentanyl Crisis, Protecting Critical Lifelines, and Combatting Discrimination Against Those with Disabilities .”     "All lives are worth living. It’s unconscionable that a health care bureaucracy would so callously determine that someone’s life is worth less. They deserve every chance to have hope and reach their full potential. The ‘quality-adjusted life years’ measurement is used to discriminate against people with chronic illnesses and disabilities, like cystic fibrosis, ALS, or Down syndrome, putting them at the back of the line for treatment. Moving this legislation will be a priority for our committee,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers.   “Washington bureaucrats have no business picking and choosing which Americans are worthy of receiving treatment for serious, and often life-threatening, health issues,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith. “The ‘quality-adjusted life years’ measurement is discriminatory, morally bankrupt, and has no place in our health care system. I’m proud to join Chair Rodgers and Congressmen Burgess and Wenstrup in this effort to halt the government’s shameless attempt to decide if someone’s life is worth living.”  "I practiced as an Ob/Gyn for nearly 30 years. During that time, I treated each patient as a human being, not just a diagnosis. Quality-Adjusted Life Year (QALY) measurements are cruel and inhibit physicians' ability to care for and treat all patients with dignity. The government should never have the ability to decide the value of a life to approve or deny care. All human life has inherent value and should be treated as such," said Rep. Michael Burgess, M.D.   “I am proud to join my colleagues to introduce legislation that stops the use of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) in Federal programs. QALY measurements put a dollar value on a person’s life, often devaluing the lives of those with chronic illnesses and disabilities. As a physician, I believe it is vitally important that our health care system values all lives and ensures that every person is treated with dignity,” said Rep. Brad Wenstrup, D.P.M.   Background:   H.R. 485 would prohibit the use of quality adjusted life years (QALYs) in all federal programs—an expansion from the current prohibition that only applies in a limited fashion to the Medicare program.  The controversial metric intentionally devalues treatments for disabled individuals and those with chronic illnesses for purposes of determining whether the treatment is cost-effective enough to be paid for by the federal government. The use of QALYs is a clear form of discrimination. The bill would also prohibit the importation of price-controls from countries that use QALYs, which are a socialist trademark of government-run health insurance programs.  What They’re Saying: “It’s hard to believe that it’s 2023 and patients with chronic illness are fighting to be treated like human beings. Congress can transform the lives of Americans with chronic disease by stopping the government use of an arbitrary metric that decides what our lives are worth,” said Terry Wilcox, CEO of Patients Rising. “Chair Rodgers didn’t waste any time defending the rights of the patients who will overwhelmingly be the targets of this calculation when determining access to care. She knows they are not worth less than anyone else, and we’re eager to join that fight.”  "The use of Quality-Adjusted Life Years is a longstanding concern in the disability community, especially in health care. The QALY inappropriately devalues the lives of people with disabilities and chronic conditions like epilepsy and can result in discriminatory limits on access needed health care services and treatments. We are glad to see this legislation to ban their use in federal health care programs included in the first hearing of the Energy & Commerce health subcommittee this Congress,” said Laura Weidner, Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy, Epilepsy Foundation.   “The quality-adjusted life year (QALY) devalues the lives of older adults, people with disabilities and chronic conditions, and communities of color. The National Council on Disability has repeatedly warned against the use of QALYs in healthcare decision making because it would undermine major U.S. disability and civil rights laws, including the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Sue Peschin, MHS, President and CEO of the Alliance for Aging Research. “Despite the obvious negative impacts on health equity, payers—including private insurers, the Veterans Administration, and state Medicaid agencies—are increasingly utilizing QALY-based cost-effectiveness analyses from the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) to ration access for FDA-approved treatments. It is time for these harmful practices to stop. The Alliance applauds Energy & Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Ways & Means Chair Jason Smith, and Doc Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Brad Wenstrup and Rep. Michael Burgess for their leadership on the introduction of the Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act of 2023 and urges Congress to pass this vital legislation.”  “National Right to Life applauds Chairs Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Jason Smith as well as Reps. Michael Burgess and Brad Wenstrup for introducing the ‘Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act.’ This legislation would prevent the use of Quality-Adjusted Life Year (QALY) or similar metrics in health coverage. QALYs are an inherently discriminatory system of rationing used to assess a person’s anticipated lifespan and whether treatment will be ‘cost effective.’ QALYs apply a score to a person’s health and penalize a person who has a disability. QALYs are being used by some health care systems and payers to determine whether a patient who is judged—by others—to have a ‘diminished quality of life’ should receive health care coverage. National Right to Life strongly supports this life-affirming, dignity-enhancing legislation," said Jennifer Popik, Director of Federal Legislation at the National Right to Life Committee. "As the mother of a child with a disability, I'm deeply disturbed by the federal government's use of QALY; it is a dehumanizing methodology that discriminates against the elderly and sickest among us. I've seen how life-saving drugs that help fight my daughter's cystic fibrosis have been denied in other countries because government bureaucrats have deemed it 'too costly.' That is unacceptable and will lead us on a path toward socialized medicine. Thankfully, this legislation will help provide access to care that Americans deserve and send an important moral statement that our nation cares for our most vulnerable," said Mary Vought, Fellow at the Independent Women’s Voice and former National Council on Disability Council Member 



Jan 31, 2023
Press Release

Chair Rodgers Convenes the Energy and Commerce Committee for the 118th Congress

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) held the Committee’s organizing meeting today, its first meeting in the 118th Congress.  Below are highlights and excerpts of her remarks:  “Welcome everyone to the Energy and Commerce Committee’s first meeting of the 118th Congress.  “Today we will welcome our newest members and we will vote on our rules and organize our subcommittee assignments.”  THE PROMISE OF AMERICA  “For 227 years, the Energy and Commerce Committee has been at the forefront of the most important issues before us as a nation.  “It’s the oldest committee in Congress. It was here at the beginning for the very first hopes and dreams in the Promise of America where we have lifted more people out of poverty and led the world in raising the standard of living through free markets and individual liberty.  “Millions of Americans are depending on us to tackle today’s greatest challenges so they have the opportunity for a brighter future.  “Like families who struggle to afford their gas, grocery, doctors, and electricity bills...  “Young people in danger of dying from a fentanyl poisoning;  “Parents telling Big Tech to stop manipulating and harming our kids;  “Parents who want accountability for school closures that hurt our children’s mental health and well-being  “The person with a disability like my son Cole who dreams of a life full of possibilities;  “Patients who are searching for a cure;  “The next generation of thinkers and doers who want to create new things to challenge our broken institutions and broken systems.  “So many in America are in need of hope and healing and all of us are eager to begin the people’s work.  “We will honor E&C’s rich history of plowing the hard ground to legislate, deliver results, and help make people’s lives better.”  TRUST IS KEY  “Of course, it isn’t just what you do, it is how you do it.  “Trust is key. It’s where the magic happens. It’s foundational to everything we do.  “Where trust has been broken, we will work hard to rebuild it.  “Restoring accountability will begin with robust oversight. Oversight is fundamental and we must provide that oversight of the Biden administration and the agencies in our jurisdiction.  “This will inform how we legislate and fulfill our Article I responsibilities.  “We will be exercising Energy and Commerce’s authorizing authority to bring accountability and congressional direction to agencies like the CDC, NIH, the FTC, and FERC, that have become disconnected so often from their core mission.”  BUILDING BIPARTISAN TRUST  “Trust is also foundational to relationships here.  “Ranking Member Pallone, I’m grateful for the trust we’ve built to honor the committee’s strong bipartisan history.  “In the last Congress, we moved a national data privacy standard further than anyone ever had.  “In addition, our mental health package passed the House with more than 400 votes and was signed into law with several other significant bipartisan accomplishments.  “I want us to keep building on this work, move more across the finish line, and keep the pressure on the Senate to act.  “Finally, I look forward to the opportunities ahead to engage in the battle of ideas.  “I believe E&C must lead by a different example than the broken institutions and systems—like the media, our universities, Big Tech, and the government—that are shutting down the freedom to debate.  “Listening and welcoming ideas is how we drive better outcomes.”  WE THE PEOPLE  “I think about America’s origin story, the story that began with ‘We, the People.’  “Our start wasn’t about any specific individual or position of power or political party.  “It was about all of us—searching for a more perfect union.  “We fought a civil war, passed a Constitutional amendment to give women the right to vote, defended freedom during two world wars, the civil rights movement, and we will continue our search of a more perfect union today.  “None of us are perfect. Our founders certainly weren’t perfect.  “And this search that continues is much bigger than any one of us.  “Together, we can lead the way to inspire people to again believe in the promise of America and remind them that American leadership for free speech, free markets, and individual liberty matters.  “It matters not just for improving people’s lives and raising the standard of living here at home but showing people around the world that there is a better path than the oppressive, authoritarian approaches like the Chinese Communist Party.  “So, I look forward to working with all our members in the many days ahead.”  INTRODUCING OUR NEW MEMBERS  “I now have the honor of introducing our nine new members of Energy and Commerce.  “First, we have Congressman Randy Weber from Texas’s 14th District.  “He brings strong energy expertise to our committee.  “He knows the priorities of small business owners across the country because he built his own business, Weber Air and Heat, from the ground up.  “As a former cheerleader, I’m told Congressman Weber will bring even more pep to the oldest committee in Congress.  “Next, we welcome Congressman Rick Allen from Georgia’s 12th District.  “He started his own construction business at 25 years old.  “This year, he will soon celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary with his wife, Robin. They have 14 grandchildren.  “He’s never without a Masters tie. Georgia’s 12th is also home to the Masters Tournament.  “Please welcome Congressman Troy Balderson from Ohio’s 12th District.  “Before public service, he worked on the family farm and ran the service department for his family-owned small business.  “He was also a fierce multi-day mountain bike competitor.  “Welcome Troy, and may I say, ‘Go Bucks!’  “Congressman Russ Fulcher joins us from Idaho’s 1st District.  “His district neighbors mine, so we’ll agree to disagree on who grows the better potatoes.  “He spent 24 years in the high-technology industry and 10 years in the Idaho Senate, where he passed the largest tax cut in Idaho’s history.  “We’re proud and grateful for Russ. He beat cancer in 2021.  “I am pleased to now recognize the 2022 Congressional baseball game’s MVP, Congressman August Pfluger from Texas’s 11 District.  “He graduated from the Air Force Academy, he served twenty years as a decorated fighter pilot.  “He’s a dad of three girls.  “Thank you for your service, Congressman Pfluger. We value your expertise on why unleashing American energy in places like Midland, Texas, is vital to our national security.  “Now we have Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger from Tennessee’s 1st District.  “I’m excited for her to join us and watch out Buddy, we have another pharmacist on the dais.  “She is also a mom and grandmother to 2 boys.  “Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks from Iowa’s 1st District.  “She’s a doctor and brings important public health expertise to E&C.  “She served for 24 years as a private, nurse, and doctor in the Army.  “This year’s Army-Navy game was a heart breaker for my family but not for Mariannette’s with Army squeaking it out in over time. Maybe next year!  “Thank you for your service, Congresswoman Miller-Meeks.  “Please welcome Congresswoman Kat Cammack from Florida’s 3rd District.  “Kat is a strong voice for the hardworking people of this country and their families, including farmers, small business owners, and first responders.  “Kat grew up on a cattle ranch and fun fact, was a rodeo queen in high school.  “Last, but not least, we have Congressman Jay Obernolte from California’s 23rd District.  “Congressman Obernolte’s background is in innovation, business, and video game development.  “His two sons must think that is very cool!  “In addition, Congressman Jay Obernolte served in the California State legislature and as Mayor of the City of Big Bear Lake.  “Again, welcome all our new members! We’re excited to have you on the team.  “I know you will make the biggest impact possible for those you serve on the best committee in Congress.”