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The Energy and Commerce Committee: Getting the Job Done

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Washington, June 28, 2016 | comments

The Energy and Commerce Committee: Getting the Job Done

By Rep. Fred Upton

The Hill

Legislation to protect seniors’ access to their Medicare doctors, to strengthen and improve chemical and pipeline safety, to reform our nation’s mental health system, and to revolutionize our healthcare ecosystem to facilitate 21st Century Cures.

What do all of these have in common?

One thing: Big, bipartisan votes in the House Energy and Commerce Committee to help usher these critical pieces of legislation through regular order here in the House, and eventually into law.

At a time when Congress seems to be more stuck than ever, the Energy and Commerce Committee, which I chair, has come together and advanced meaningful legislation that makes a real difference in the lives of each and every American. These five landmark bills represent just a fraction of the hard work our Members – both Republican and Democrat – do in Washington.

It’s a good-news story the media doesn’t always seem interested in telling, but it’s an important story to tell nonetheless.

Here at E&C, we call it our #RecordOfSuccess. Since I became Chairman in 2011, we’ve rolled up our sleeves and gotten to work for the American people. In that time, we’ve seen over 130 pieces of bipartisan legislation move through our committee, sail through the House and onto the Senate, and then to the White House to be signed by President Obama.

H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, was a bipartisan, bicameral effort to permanently fix the Medicare payment formula known as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). Our committee worked over several years, and multiple Congresses to enact real reforms that would fix this flawed payment formula and protect seniors’ access to their Medicare physicians. It strengthened Medicare for seniors now and for future generations and also protected and expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Our committee advanced this common sense legislation by a bipartisan 51-0 vote. It passed the House and the Senate and President Obama signed it into law.

Chemical safety reform was long overdue, with the last real update coming in 1976, and – again – after several years and multiple sessions of Congress, we were able to come to a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on legislation that will make real reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act. The end result was the Frank L. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act which was advanced by our committee 47-0-1. It passed the House and the Senate and President Obama signed this chemical safety measure into law on June 22, 2016. This landmark legislation marked the most meaningful update to issues involving environment and the economy in decades.

Pipeline safety has long been a priority for our committee. In 2011, we first passed legislation to improve and strengthen the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) so that the free flow of critical energy continues, keeping costs low for families and businesses across the country. That law needed to be reauthorized and also needed some fine-tuning so we worked in tandem with the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and constructed the PIPES Act, which our committee advanced by a unanimous vote earlier this month. It was passed in the House and Senate and President Obama recently signed this important bill into law.

Reforming our nation’s mental health system has also been another multi-year, multi-Congress priority for our committee. H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), is a good piece of legislation that will make a real difference for countless Americans. Those suffering from mental illness need the attention of this Congress, and we acted: H.R. 2646 advanced through our committee by a 53-0 vote. The landmark mental health reform package now awaits a vote by the full House, which is expected in the coming months.

Finally, we come to 21st Century Cures. This bold idea – fostered by myself and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) – aims to improve our nation’s health care innovation ecosystem and was the result of a year-long listening tour that took members of our committee across the country to hear directly from patients, families, doctors, and researchers. What we learned is that when there is a gap between the science and the laws that regulate – we all lose – but especially patients and families who need cures now. What we came up with was H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act which advanced in our committee by a 51-0 vote, was passed the House by a sweeping margin, and now awaits a vote in the Senate.

Working together, the Energy and Commerce Committee members have continued to deliver results for the American people time and time again. The proof is in the pudding, and we’re going to keep getting the job done for the American people. Cooperation, collaboration, and bipartisan results may not achieve the boldest headlines, but they have the boldest impact for everyday Americans. And that’s what matters most.

To learn more about the Energy and Commerce Committee’s bipartisan #RecordOfSuccess please visit energycommerce.house.gov/recordofsuccess

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