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Harkin Announces HELP Committee Passage of Six Bipartisan Bills

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement after the Committee approved six bipartisan bills at an executive session today. Two of the bills – the Streamlining Claims Processing for Federal Contractor Employees Act and the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act— have previously passed the U.S. House of Representatives.  If they are approved by the full Senate, they will go right to President Obama to be signed into law.

“I am encouraged by the legislation coming out of the HELP Committee – every initiative is a testament to what Congress can achieve when we work across party lines to enact meaningful legislation,” said Harkin.  “These initiatives approved today will support a range of important programs in our hospitals, schools, in senior communities, and beyond.  I thank Ranking Member Alexander and all of the members who made these bipartisan accomplishments possible.”

At an executive session today, the Committee approved:

  • A reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, legislation first passed more than 40 years ago in 1965 that continues to be a critical vehicle for the delivery of nutrition and social services for seniors. The effort to reauthorize OAA was led by Chairman Harkin, Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Subcommittee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and includes improved protections for vulnerable elders and expanded support for family caregivers. The bill also promotes the delivery of evidence-based services. 
  • The Children’s Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act (CHGME) supports graduate medical education at children’s hospitals around the country and gives children’s health a critical boost by growing the number of doctors who choose to become pediatricians and pediatric specialists. Harkin, Alexander, and Committee Members Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) led the effort to reauthorize the CHGME program.
  • The Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance and Protection (CHIMP) Act provides lifetime care in a sanctuary system to chimpanzees that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) no longer needs for biomedical research. The CHIMP Act Amendments of 2013 ensures that NIH can continue to provide for the care and maintenance of chimpanzees in the sanctuary. Harkin, Alexander, and Committee Member Richard Burr (R-NC) are the sponsors of the CHIMP Act Amendments of 2013.
  • The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act addresses the rise in diagnoses of food allergies in children by encouraging schools to maintain a supply of epinephrine injectors and to allow trained school personnel to administer an epinephrine injection if a student is experiencing an anaphylactic reaction. This legislation was introduced by Committee Member Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). The legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives in July, and if approved by the full Senate, will go to the President to be signed into law. 
  • The Cooperative and Small Employer Charity Pension Flexibility Act addresses the challenges faced by many cooperative and small employer charities in providing pension benefits to their workers. The bill would make it easier for charities and cooperatives to continue to offer pensions to their employees. Harkin and Committee Member Pat Roberts (R-KS) are the authors of the legislation.
  • The Streamlining Claims Processing for Federal Contractor Employees Act would move responsibility for wage claims adjustments for federally contracted workers from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to the Department of Labor, helping to improve the process and ensure workers receive their pay in a timely manner. This bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives in September and if approved by the full Senate, will go to the President to be signed into law.