Washington Summary: Key issues for the 115th Congress

The 115th Congress convened on Jan. 3, 2017

Some changes are occurring in the key committees and subcommittees that deal with PKD issues:

  • House Energy and Commerce
  • Senate HELP
  • Two Appropriations Committees

When we have a complete list of committee and subcommittee assignments, we will let you know so that you can contact them.

What we know

  • Senate Appropriations Committee: Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) is the new ranking member, replacing the retired Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) is a new member of the Committee and should be a strong supporter of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding.
  • House Energy & Commerce Committee: Rep. Greg Welden (R-OR) is the new chairman of the full Committee. The new chairman of the Health Subcommittee is Dr. Michael Burgess (R-TX).

We have a list of new Representatives and Senators. That will give the information you need to introduce yourself to your new elected officials and to begin to educate them on PKD and our needs in 2017.

New Congress means new bills

The 115th Congress begins from square one on PKD-related subjects. Here are some of the key issues for this year:

  • NIH funding: Congress must act by April 28 to continue FY17 funding for NIH and a number of other departments and agencies. We still hope to see an increase in health research funds for the rest of the current fiscal year. Then Congress will decide how to fund NIH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in FY18 (which begins on Sept. 30, 2017).
  • Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act (H.R. 6139 in the previous Congress): Dr. Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) have indicated that they will reintroduce the bill that would continue necessary medication for kidney transplant recipients.
  • Living Donor Protection Act (previously H.R. 4616/S 2584) would remove barriers to living organ donation.

New administration may mean new policies

Dr. Tom Price (R-GA), chairman of the House Budget Committee last year, awaits Senate confirmation as Secretary of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

In December, several key lawmakers urged the retention of Dr. Francis Collins as NIH Director: Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Tom Cole (R-OK) and Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) have been active in NIH funding and the 21st Century Cures Act.

No announcements have been made about on the NIH Director, the head of the FDA, or the new administration’s health research priorities. [As of Jan. 12]