Alexander: Senate on Track to Pass “Most Important Bill of the Year”

Senate votes 85-13 to move forward on the 21st Century Cures Act, following House passage last week by overwhelming vote of 392-26

Posted on December 5, 2016

WASHINGTON, December 5 — Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said the United States Senate is on track to pass what Majority Leader McConnell has called “the most important legislation Congress will pass this year,” after senators invoked cloture on the 21st Century Cures Act, setting up a vote for final Senate passage of the bill:

“For the second year in a row, the Senate is poised to send the President another Christmas miracle for his signature—one that will help virtually every American family. This time, it’s the 21st Century Cures Act, which the House of Representatives passed last week by an overwhelming vote of 392-26. Tonight, the Senate has voted to move forward on this bill, sending an unmistakable message that the time is now to deliver on the promise of 21st Century Cures,” Alexander said. “I am looking forward to another successful vote in the Senate tomorrow, so we can send this legislation to the White House where the president has his pen ready to sign it.”

Senator Alexander continued: “This bipartisan legislation – which Majority Leader McConnell has called 'the most important legislation Congress will pass this year' – will help us take advantage of the breathtaking advances in biomedical research and bring those innovations to doctors’ offices and patients’ medicine cabinets around the country. This legislation will advance Vice President Biden’s moonshot to find cures for cancer, President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative, and the BRAIN Initiative – and it will help states in the fight against opioid abuse and the one in five adults in this country suffering from a mental illness. It’s time for the Senate to deliver on the promise of 21st Century Cures for patients.”

This past weekend, President Obama voiced his strong support for this bill, in his weekly address to the nation saying: “Like all good legislation, [the bill] reflects compromise.  This week, the House passed it overwhelmingly, and in bipartisan fashion.  The Senate will vote in the next few days, and I hope they’ll do the same.  I’ll sign it as soon as it reaches my desk, because like a lot of you, I’ve lost people I love to cancer.  I hear every day from Americans whose loved ones are suffering from addiction and other debilitating diseases.  And I believe we should seize every chance we have to find cures as soon as possible.  When it’s your family, hope can’t come soon enough."

Last December, Congress passed and the President signed the Every Student Succeeds Act – legislation to fix No Child Left Behind.

The 21st Century Cures agreement will:

  • Help bring safe drugs and devices to market more quickly and at less cost by making needed reforms to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including: expedited review for breakthrough devices, increased patient involvement in the drug approval process, a streamlined review process for combination products that are both a drug and device, and freedom from red tape for software like fitbits or calorie counting apps.
  • Provide $4.8 billion to National Institutes of Health, including: $1.8 billion for Vice President Biden’s "Cancer Moonshot” to speed cancer research; $1.4 billion for President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative to drive research into the genetic, lifestyle and environmental variations of disease; and $1.6 billion for the BRAIN Initiative to improve our understanding of diseases like Alzheimer's and speed diagnosis and treatment.
  • Provide $500 million to the FDA.
  • Provide $1 billion in grants to states to address the opioid crisis.
  • Address the country’s mental health crisis and help the one out of five adult Americans suffering from mental illness receive the care they need.
  • Improve electronic health records for doctors and their patients. 

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For access to this release and the senator’s other statements, click here.

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