Reid optimistic on FDA bill, faces pressure to include flood insurance

Reid added that he looks forward to an "orderly amendment process." While the majority leader did not mention flood insurance explicitly, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) is known to be pushing for language that would extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which expires at the end of this month.

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The House approved a 30-day extension of the NFIP last week, in a bid to give the Senate more time to work out is own language. Last year, the House passed a five-year extension that included several reforms aimed at helping the program reduce its nearly $18 billion debt, but the Senate has yet to approve an extension in any form.

Senators have proposed more than a dozen other amendments to the bill that could be considered, and others could emerge in the coming days.

Reid said Tuesday morning that the Senate would approve a motion in the afternoon to proceed to the bill by unanimous consent, and some announcement on amendments could follow later in the day.

Regardless of how many there are, Reid again stressed the importance of finishing the bill quickly, saying it would help ensure access to cancer drugs and other therapies.

"Imagine coming to terms with your diagnosis only to find out the lifesaving drug you need to survive is in short supply, or is simply not available," he said. "I wish this were make believe but it's not. It's real America."

As he did last week, Reid noted the 20-week chemotherapy sessions his wife went through and said other Americans are not as lucky as his family, because they often face shortages or sometimes require more than one hard-to-find drug for successful therapy.

"Every day these stories play out ... across our country," he said. "Every day Americans experience shortages of the lifesaving FDA-approved drugs and treatments. These shortages literally put Americans at risk."

The bill would set up a user fee program at the FDA under which generic and biosimilar drugmakers would pay FDA to have their products evaluated and approved. Makers of brand-name drugs and devices have a similar program in place already that they support; its user fees go toward hiring more FDA employees that process the applications.