Medical Cures Bill Unanimously Passes House Panel

The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday unanimously approved a medical cures bill shortly after reaching a bipartisan $13 billion deal to pay for the legislation.

“That is an amazing accomplishment,” Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), said, noting that he had been on the committee for 28 years and had never before seen a major bill pass without a single “nay” vote.

The 21st Century Cures measure, which passed 51-0, is aimed at streamlining the FDA’s approval process for new drugs. It received bipartisan support in the Energy and Commerce Committee, easily passing a subpanel last week on a voice vote. The committee’s chairman, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) worked with Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) on the bill for over a year.

The major remaining question was how to pay for the bill’s cost, including more than $10 billion over five years in new funds for the medical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The bill also includes $550 million over five years for the Food and Drug Administration, a key point for Democrats, who pushed to have the funds added.