A top Democratic negotiator said Wednesday that new funding in a major medical cures bill has been cut significantly as lawmakers look for a path for passage.
He also said funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is down to $300 million, from about $500 million in the original bill.
Lawmakers are looking for a bipartisan deal to move this slimmed down version of the bill when Congress returns for a lame-duck session after the elections. The measure could be a way to fund medical research priorities such as Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden: I regret not being president Biden: 'McCain is right: Need select committee' for Russia With no emerging leaders, no clear message, Democrats flounder MORE’s cancer “moonshot.”
The original version of the bill, which seeks to accelerate the FDA’s approval process for new drugs and invest in medical research, passed the House on a bipartisan vote last year.
But it has been mired in the Senate amid months of negotiations over a bipartisan way to pay for the new spending.
Sensing that the clock is ticking, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who has made the bill his signature issue, is looking to jumpstart the process by passing a new, slimmed down bill through the House in consultation with the Senate. The upper chamber could then take up that new measure.
“We're only here a week in November, so that will be the week we need to deal with it, so that's what Chairman Upton said,” Green said.
He said the House would pass the new bill first, after consultations with the Senate to make sure it can pass in that chamber as well.
“Basically we're going to try to make sure that we do what the Senate said they can do,” Green said.
Top negotiators in both parties in the House and Senate on Wednesday released statements pledging to work to pass the bill after the election.
Green noted that while the new research funding is less than he hoped, he views it as a starting point, and noted that the regular appropriations process could also increase some funding for the NIH.
“To me, it's like a down payment,” he said. “We're not going to get everything we started with.”