WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered remarks during today’s markup on several health care reauthorizations.
Click here to watch the markup live.
Cassidy’s speech as prepared for delivery can be found below:
Thank you, Chair Sanders.
As ranking member of this Committee, getting reauthorizations done on time and in a bipartisan manner should be a top priority.
Today’s markup is an important step in accomplishing this goal.
I thank Chair Sanders, who has noted his commitment to finishing reauthorizations in a timely manner and with support from Democrats and Republicans. I look forward to more bipartisan reauthorization markups coming soon.
Thanks to the rest of the Committee for their work. We don’t always agree, but it is our responsibility to set politics aside to make sure important programs are properly evaluated and improved to benefit fellow Americans.
Today, we are considering several expiring reauthorizations related to public health that enhance treatment and research of serious diseases.
Specifically, Senators Susan Collins and Mark Warner’s NAPA Reauthorization Act, extending the National Alzheimer’s Project to 2035 and supporting a strategic national plan to combat Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. We are also marking up Senators Susan Collins and Ed Markey’s Alzheimer’s Accountability and Investment Act, requiring NIH scientists to submit an annual Alzheimer’s research budget directly to Congress.
We are addressing Senators Susan Collins and Dick Durbin’s Supporting and Improving Rural EMS Needs Reauthorization (SIREN) Act, which ensures rural EMS agencies are properly staffed and have the equipment they need to provide critical emergency care to Americans living in rural, underserved areas.
We also are considering Senators Tim Scott and Cory Booker’s Sickle Cell Disease and Other Heritable Blood Disorders Research, Surveillance, Prevention, and Treatment Act of 2023, expanding the number of clinicians who can treat sickle cell disease and improving care coordination with other providers.
The Committee will look at Senators Susan Collins and Jeanne Shaheen’s Special Diabetes Program Reauthorization Act of 2023, providing mandatory funding for the Special Diabetes Program and the Special Diabetes Program for Indians, $170 million for each program in fiscal years 2024 and 2025.
We will mark up Senator Tammy Baldwin and Markwayne Mullin’s Animal Drug and Animal Generic Drug User Fee Amendments of 2023, ensuring that veterinarians, farmers, and ranchers have access to new medicines to keep families and animals healthy and protect against outbreaks of disease.
I also want to highlight Senator Roger Marshall’s policy on zootechnical food substances, which will be offered as an amendment today. This would streamline FDA’s review of a new category of products that help farmers and ranchers make their operations safer and more efficient. These include products to reduce the risk of foodborne pathogens like salmonella and E. coli, and increase production of milk, eggs, and meat. These products are analogous to nutritional supplements such as folate and easily absorbed iron for women who are pregnant. The policy gives FDA similar flexibility for animal products that it has for supplements for humans.
I want to thank Senators Collins, Marshall, Mullin, Tim Scott, Warner, Markey, Durbin, Booker, Baldwin, and Shaheen who have spearheaded these bipartisan pieces of legislation.
These reauthorizations are crucial to improve health care for American families.
Ensuring these and all reauthorizations are passed and signed into law before September 30th requires the full commitment from every member of this Committee and continued leadership from the Chair.
Our work is cut out for us.
But this markup shows that both sides of the aisle are committed to working together to get reauthorizations completed.
Today’s bipartisan effort should be a model for how this Committee functions going forward. It appears, unfortunately, this will not be the case. Yesterday, the chair announced that next week this Committee will depart from its long tradition of bipartisanship to hold its first partisan markup since the Affordable Care Act in 2009. For what? For controversial legislation that will not pass Congress, let alone pass the Senate.
For almost a decade and a half, this Committee has fulfilled a commitment to work past partisanship to secure real solutions for American families. Breaking this tradition is beyond disappointing. It does not set the stage to complete the important work Americans depend on us to complete.
That said, I thank Chair Sanders for today’s markup and all of you for your collaboration. I look forward to today’s conversation on how to better these reauthorizations.