Congressional Affairs (Prepared January 20, 2010)
On December 16, 2009, the President signed into law P.L. 111-117, the Consolidated Appropriations Act. This Act includes appropriations for NIH of $31.009 billion, and within that total $1.06 billion for NIDA. This represents a 2.6% increase over the pre-ARRA FY 2009 total for NIDA. The bill as passed does NOT defund any NIH grants, as per original House language. The bill also changes federal law regarding potential funding for syringe exchange programs. Federal funds may now be used to fund these programs, in the context of preventing the spread of blood borne pathogens, as long as local law enforcement and public health officials agree on the locations of such programs.
Legislation of Particular Interest
Health Reform - This topic continues to trump most others in the current Congress. The House and Senate passed separate bills, and intense negotiations toward a single bill and final vote in both bodies continues. Future Reports to Council will include more detail specific to issues of particular relevance to NIH and the substance abuse and addiction field, once the language is final.
Resolutions in Support of Drug Facts Chat Day - Resolutions were introduced in both the House and Senate supporting the goals of NIDA's annual Drug Facts Chat Day. H.Res. 728 was introduced 9/9/09 by Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) and Rick Larsen (D-WA)) and S.Res. 256 was introduced 9/9/09 by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI). Neither bill was brought up for a vote.
SBIR/STTR - H.R. 2965, the Enhancing Small Business Research and Innovation Act of 2009, as passed by the House, would loosen the requirements for venture capital-backed small businesses to receive funding from the SBIR and STTR programs without set-aside increases, as does the Senate reauthorization bill, S. 1233.
H.R. 2965 would also: provide special consideration for small business projects that include energy-related research, rare disease-related research, transportation and infrastructure research and research related to nanotechnology; reauthorize the SBIR/STTR programs only through fiscal 2011; and increase small business award levels (raise to $250,000 from $100,000 for participation in the Phase I level; and raise to $2 million from $750,000 for participation in Phase II)
S. 1233 also includes some change in the venture capital provisions. It would also increase the SBIR set-aside from 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent over the period of FY 2011-2020, and double the STTR from 0.3 percent to 0.6 percent from FY 2011 to FY 2015. Award levels would also rise, from $100,000 to $150,000 for Phase I awards and $750,000 to $1 million for Phase II awards -and the language also would limit awards from exceeding 50 percent above the recommended award levels.
The current, short-term extension of the program's authorization expires on January 31, 2010. We continue to await Congressional action to extend the date further pass a longer term reauthorization bill.
Bills of Interest
[For the full text and additional information about any bill, go to the Library of Congress website at http://thomas.loc.gov].
H.R. 3939 - On October 27, 2009, Representative Sam Farr (D-CA) introduced the Truth in Trials Act, to amend Title 18 of the United States Code to provide an affirmative defense for the medical use of marijuana in accordance with the laws of the various states. The bill was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
H.R. 4055 - On November 6, 2009, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced the Honest Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) Initiative Act of 2009, to authorize a national HOPE program to reduce drug use, crime, and costs of incarceration. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
S. 1789 - On October 15, 2009, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced the Fair Sentencing Act of 2009, to restore fairness to Federal cocaine sentencing. The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. See H.R. 265