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Pallone Highlights Energy and Commerce Committee Accomplishments for the 116th Congress

Jan 4, 2021
Press Release

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) today highlighted the work of the Energy and Commerce Committee in the 116th Congress.                                                                                                 

“Over the last two years, the Energy and Commerce Committee has delivered for the American people and I commend all the members for their outstanding bipartisan work,” Pallone said.  “As the nation confronted the unprecedented public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting severe economic downturn, we worked throughout the year to provide the tools and resources needed to bring an end of this terrible pandemic. We also advanced legislation that provides relief to the American people, protects consumers, combats climate change, and helps rebuild our economy. Finally, we conducted robust oversight to hold the Trump Administration accountable and to ensure Washington works again for the people.”  

In order to combat the coronavirus, the Committee worked expeditiously on the following measures that were enacted into law:

  • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act included provisions that guaranteed all Americans have access to coronavirus testing free of charge and expanded federal funding for state and territorial Medicaid programs;
  • The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided assistance to the American people, health care workers, hospitals, small businesses, and state, local, tribal and territorial governments, as well as funding for research and development of vaccines and therapeutics; The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act included funding for testing and contact tracing, as well as funding to reimburse hospitals and health care providers for COVID-19 expenses and losses; and 
  • An omnibus appropriations and COVID-19 relief package that delivers an additional $69 billion in critically needed funding for testing, contact tracing, vaccines, mental health, and support for health care providers.

Other key accomplishments included advancing legislation through the Committee that was enacted into law, including legislation that will:

  • End surprise medical bills by holding patients harmless when they receive a surprise bill from an out-of-network health care provider;
  • Phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons, an extremely potent greenhouse gas, by 85 percent over 15 years in order to avoid up to 0.5 degree Celsius of warming;
  • Update the federal pipeline safety program to better protect our communities and help combat climate change by mandating the repair of methane leaks;
  • Provide long-term extensions of expiring public health programs, including: Community Health Centers, the National Health Service Corps, Teaching Health Centers, and Special Diabetes Programs;
  • Stop the onslaught of annoying robocalls by requiring carriers to offer call-authentication technology to consumers at no additional charge to enable consumers to block calls they don’t want;
  • Protect consumers from scammers who are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to commit fraud;
  • Improve America’s broadband maps to promote the deployment of high-speed service to Americans living in unserved and underserved areas;
  • Secure America’s wireless future to better serve all Americans and guarantee our networks are secure from foreign adversaries that may wish to do us harm;
  • Protect consumers from dangerous products and ensure the Consumer Product Safety Commission acts quickly to enforce the law and educate consumers about common household dangers; and
  • Further the march toward our clean energy future by helping federal, state and local officials use renewable power, make facilities more energy efficient and acquire zero emissions vehicles and the infrastructure to fuel them.

The Committee also crafted legislation through the Committee that will:

  • Enhance the Affordable Care Act to make health care more affordable and accessible, and protect people with pre-existing conditions;
  • Make prescription drugs more affordable by empowering the federal government to negotiate the price of prescription drugs and capping seniors’ out-of-pocket costs;
  • Rebuild America through a comprehensive infrastructure package that combats climate change, expands broadband access, and protects public health and the environment;
  • Restore a free and open internet to spark innovation and protect small businesses by reversing the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality protections;
  • Protect consumers and workers by banning the manufacture, import, processing, and distribution of asbestos, which kills nearly 40,000 Americans every year;
  • Enhance the security of our electric grid and other energy infrastructure by protecting them against cyberattacks;
  • Stop the youth tobacco epidemic by raising the minimum purchase age, prohibiting flavors in tobacco products, and protecting kids from predatory marketing; and
  • Protect consumers from PFAS contamination and exposure through a protective drinking water standard, ensuring contaminated sites are cleaned up, and establishing a new grant program to filter the chemicals out of Americans’ drinking water.  

In January 2020, after holding 15 hearings addressing the climate crisis, Committee Democrats released the draft Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act – a comprehensive proposal of sector-specific and economy-wide solutions to address the climate crisis by achieving net-zero greenhouse gas pollution. 

The Committee’s oversight and investigative efforts were as robust as its legislative efforts, including:

  • Scrutinizing the Administration’s failures in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Examining how vaccine manufacturers are spending billions in federal dollars and partnering with the federal government for COVID-19 vaccine development, manufacturing, and equitable distribution;
  • Overseeing federal agencies’ efforts to turn the tide against the opioid epidemic;
  • Demanding answers from manufacturers and pharmacy middlemen on the skyrocketing price of insulin;
  • Examining the Department of Health and Human Services’ role in carrying out the Administration’s inhumane family separation policy;
  • Investigating the rise of youth vaping in America, the Food and Drug Administration’s response, and e-cigarette manufacturers’ impact on public health;
  • Questioning the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) lack of enforcement of environmental violations and its troubling reliance on industry self-reporting, particularly during COVID-19; 
  • Scrutinizing EPA’s efforts to rollback pollution protections and dismiss independent science by removing independent scientific experts and undermining protections against mercury air toxics and automobile emissions;
  • Examining the Department of Energy’s nuclear waste cleanup efforts and skyrocketing environmental liabilities; and 
  • Investigating Short-Term Insurance Plans that put consumers’ health at risk.

The Committee’s Activity Report for the 116th Congress can be found here.