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Harkin Announces Three More Bipartisan Health Bills Headed to President’s Desk

CHIMP, PREEMIE, National Pediatric Research bills all approved by Senate last evening

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, today announced that three bipartisan health bills have been approved by Congress and now head to the President’s desk.  The CHIMP Act Amendments of 2013 passed last night as part of a package that also included the HELP Committee-cleared PREEMIE Reauthorization Act, which authorizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Resources and Services Administration to conduct research and education activities relating to preterm labor and delivery and infant mortality; and the National Pediatric Research Network Act, which allows for the establishment of a national pediatric research network by the NIH dedicated to finding treatments and cures for pediatric diseases and conditions.

“These efforts are bipartisan, they are meaningful to public health, and they show what Congress can achieve when we work across party lines to enact meaningful legislation,” said Harkin. 

In particular, Harkin hailed Congressional passage of the CHIMP Act Amendments of 2013, a bipartisan bill that will ensure that chimpanzees owned or supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and that are no longer used for medical research, can continue to receive the care they need in quality settings. The bill will provide flexibility for the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to use already-appropriated funds to pay for care of chimpanzees housed in federal sanctuaries if doing so would be more efficient and economical for the NIH.

“With legislation now passed by both houses of Congress, the National Institutes of Health will be able to fulfill its important decision to scale back the use of chimpanzees in medical research. Under current law, the NIH’s ability to use its existing funds to provide care to its chimpanzees already housed in sanctuaries is limited," Harkin said. "This bill will allow the NIH to provide care to its chimpanzees already housed in sanctuaries, in addition to carrying out the important goal of moving the chimps currently living in research labs. By passing this bill, we are fulfilling our obligation to provide care for animals that have directly contributed to our medical advances. I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for moving quickly to send this bill to the President’s desk for his signature.”

Harkin introduced the CHIMP Act Amendments of 2013 with HELP Committee Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and HELP Committee Member Richard Burr (R-NC). In October, the Senate HELP Committee passed the bill with unanimous support. He also included a provision in his Fiscal Year 2014 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill (S.1284) that would permanently waive NIH’s $30 million cap.

Earlier this week, the Senate approved the Children’s Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act (CHGME), which 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. That bill, which cleared the Senate HELP Committee in October, has been sent to the House for consideration.  

On November 12th, Congress also approved the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act—passed by the Senate HELP Committee in March—to allow research on organ donation from HIV-positive organ donors into HIV-positive recipients.  That bill now heads to the President’s desk.  Also on November 12th, Congress approved legislation that passed the Senate HELP Committee in October, to allow access to emergency epinephrine in schools. That legislation, the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, was signed into law by President Obama on Wednesday.