En español
NIDA

Congressional Affairs, May 2015

Prepared April 24, 2015

Appropriations

The President’s FY 2016 Budget proposes $31.311 billion at the program level for NIH, 3.3% above the enacted FY 2015 program level. For NIDA, the corresponding figures are $1.047 billion and 3.1%. 

Congressional Hearings/Briefings

  • January 21, 2015 – NIDA staff attended a briefing sponsored the RAND Corporation: Insights About Marijuana Legalization in the United States.
  • January 21, 2015 – NIDA staff attended a briefing sponsored by the Friends of National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: Opioid Use: Protecting the Most Vulnerable – Addressing Drug Exposure in Mothers and Newborns.
  • March 3, 2015 – NIH testified in support of its FY 2016 budget request. This was the annual hearing in front of the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. This year, NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow was among the NIH Institute Directors invited by Dr. Collins to attend with him. Several drug abuse and addiction-related questions were asked by subcommittee members (as well as the Chairman of the full committee, Congressman Hal Rogers (R-KY).
  • March 17, 2015 – NIDA’s Dr. Susan Weiss and Dr. Maureen Boyle met via conference call with staff from Senator Brian Schatz’ (D-HI) office. They reviewed a range of marijuana research topics.
  • March 18, 2015 – NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow met with and briefed staff from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Topic: Opioid abuse and addiction. This subcommittee is holding a series of hearings on the topic.
  • March 24, 2015 – NIDA’s Dr. Susan Weiss, along with representatives from the FDA, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Justice, met with staff from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The topic was marijuana use and addiction, and the potential therapeutic uses of marijuana.
  • March 26, 2015 – The House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, held its first hearing focused on opioids. Transcript, statements and video available at http://energycommerce.house.gov/press-release/suboversight-continues-its-review-growing-threat-prescription-drug-and-heroin-abuse.
  • April 3, 2015 – At their request, the Clerks of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, visited NIH to meet with several IC directors. NIDA’s Dr. Nora Volkow was one of the Directors who had the opportunity to brief these staff on important work ongoing at the Institute.
  • April 6-9, 2015 – Fourth Annual Rx Summit – At the request of Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY), NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow and NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins provided plenary remarks at this year’s Summit. Over 1400 attendees gathered this year to focus on the opioid abuse, addiction and overdose crisis in the U.S. Also addressing the Summit this year were ONDCP Director Michael Botticelli, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, FDA Acting Commissioner Dr. Stephen Ostroff, and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy. Seven members of congressman also attended and spoke as part of a congressional action panel.
  • April 9, 2015 – Co-located with the Rx Summit, the second annual summit of Smart Approaches to Marijuana featured remarks from NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow. Dr. Volkow gave a talk focused on the health effects of marijuana use.
  • April 23, 2015 – The House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, held its second hearing focused on opioids. Transcript, statements and video available at http://energycommerce.house.gov/press-release/suboversight-continues-work-combat-prescription-drug-and-opioid-abuse.
  • April 29, 2015 – Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) took the lead in creating and sponsoring the fourth congressional addiction forum. This forum focused on prevention and treatment issues in youth. NIDA’s Dr. Redonna Chandler provided summary remarks on what we know from scientific research on these topics.

Legislation of Interest

H.R. 203 – On January 12, 2015, the House passed the Clay Hunt SAV Act, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide for the conduct of annual evaluations of mental health care and suicide prevention programs of Department of Veterans Affairs, to require a pilot program on loan repayment for psychiatrists who agree to serve in the Veterans Health Administration, and for other purposes. The bill was passed by the Senate on 2/3, and signed into law by the President on 2/12.

H.R. 262 – On January 9, 2015, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced the States’ Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act, to amend the Controlled Substances Act so as to exempt real property from civil forfeiture due to medical marijuana-related conduct that is authorized by State law. The bill was referred to the Committees on Judiciary and Energy and Commerce.

H.R. 292 – On January 13, 2015, Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX) introduced the Advancing Research for Neurological Diseases Act of 2015, to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for systematic data collection and analysis and epidemiological research regarding Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Parkinson's disease, and other neurological diseases. The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

H.R. 467 – On January 22, 2015, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) introduced the STEM Opportunities Act. Among the provisions, the bill would (1) require the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to provide federal science agencies with guidance on establishing specified policies to accommodate the needs of researchers who are caregivers; (2) require each federal science agency to annually collect and submit to the National Science Foundation (NSF) institution-level data on a number of items including demographics, primary field, award type, and review rating (as practicable); (3) direct OSTP, in collaboration with NSF, to identify and disseminate to federal science agencies information and best practices useful in educating program officers and members of standing peer review committees at federal science agencies about research on implicit gender, race, or ethnic bias; and methods to minimize the effect of such bias in federal research grant reviews; and (4) require federal science agencies to maintain or develop and implement policies and practices to minimize the effects of implicit bias in federal research grant reviews. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

H.R. 525 – On January 26, 2015, Representative Massie Thomas (R-KY) introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015, to amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana, and for other purposes. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee. See S.134.

H.R. 667 – On February 3, 2015, Representative Earl Blumenaur (D-OR) introduced the Veterans Equal Access act, to authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs health care providers to provide recommendations and opinions to veterans regarding participation in state medical marijuana programs. The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

H.R. 953 – On February 12, 2015, Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act, to authorize the Attorney General to award grants to address the national epidemics of prescription drug and heroin abuse. The bill was referred to the committees on the Judiciary and Energy and Commerce. See S. 524.

H.R. 1013 – On February 20, 2015, Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced the Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol Act, to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, to leave to the states the power to regulate marijuana in a similar way to the way they regulate alcohol, and for other purposes. The bill was referred to several committees: Judiciary, Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, Natural Resources.

H.R. 1014 – On February 20, 2015, Represenative Earl Blumenaur introduced the Marijuana Tax Revenue act of 2015, to amend the IRS code of 1986 to provide for the taxation of marijuana. The bill was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.

H.R. 1462 – On March 19, 2015, Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA) introduced the Protecting Our Infants Act, to combat the rise of prenatal opioid abuse and neonatal abstinence syndrome. The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce. See S.799.

H.R. 1538 – On March 23, 2015, Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) introduced the CARERS Act, to extend the principle of federalism to State drug policy, provide access to medical marijuana, and enable research into the medicinal properties of marijuana. The bill was referred to the committees on Energy and Commerce, Judiciary, Veterans, and Financial Services. See S.683.

H.R. 1635 – On March 25, 2015, Representative Scott Perry (R-PA) introduced the Charlotte’s Web Medical Access Act of 2015, to amend the controlled substances act to exclude cannabidiol-rich plants from the definition of marijuana. The bill was referred to the committees on Energy and Commerce and Judiciary.

H.R. 1774 – On April 14, 2015, Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA) introduced the Compassionate Access Act, to provide for the rescheduling of marijuana, the medical use of marijuana in accordance with state law, and the exclusion of cannabidiol from the definition of marijuana. The bill was referred to the committees on Energy and Commerce and Judiciary.

H.R. 1855 – On April 16, 2015, Representative Earl Blumenaur (D-OR) introduced the Small Business Tax Equity act, a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow deductions and credits relating to expenditures in connection with marijuana sales conducted in compliance with State law. The bill was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means. See S. 987.

H.R. 1940 – On April 22, 2015, Representative Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA) introduced a bill to amend the Controlled Substances Act to provide for a new rule regarding the application of the Act to marihuana, and for other purposes. The bill was referred to the Committes on Energy and Commerce, Judiciary.

H.R. 1988 – On April 23, 2015, Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH) introduced the Breaking Addiction Act of 2015, to provide for the waiver of the Medicaid IMD limitation in order to permit Medicaid coverage for substance use disorder treatment services furnished to certain individuals in a community-based institution for mental diseases. The bill was referred to the committee on Energy and Commerce.

S. 134 – On January 8, 2015, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015, to amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana, and for other purposes. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee. See H.R. 525.

S. 318/H.R. 531 – On January 29, 2015, and January 26, 2015, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced S. 318 and H.R. 531, respectively, the Accelerating Biomedical Research Act. These bills would prioritize funding for the National Institutes of Health to discover treatments and cures, to maintain global leadership in medical innovation, and to restore the purchasing power the NIH had after the historic doubling campaign that ended in fiscal year 2003. The bills were referred to Senate and House Committees on the Budget.

S. 281 – On January 28, 2015, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) introduced a bill to require a Federal agency to include language in certain educational advertising materials indicating that such materials are produced and disseminated at taxpayer expense. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

S. 289 – On January 28, 2015, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced the American Cures Act. The bill would authorize additional investment for NIH, CDC, Department of Defense Health Programs, and Veterans Medical & Prosthetics Research Program and also create a budget cap adjustment through the remaining years of the Budget Control Act. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on the Budget.

S. 320 – On January 29, 2015, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced S. 320, the Medical Innovation Act. The bill would authorize the collection of supplemental payments increase investments in medical research. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. See H.R. 744.

S. 524 – On February 12, 2015, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act, to authorize the Attorney General to award grants to address the twin epidemics of prescription drug and heroin abuse. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee. See H.R. 953.

S.683 – On March 10, 2015, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the CARERS Act, to extend the principle of federalism to State drug policy, provide access to medical marijuana, and enable research into the medicinal properties of marijuana. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee. See H.R. 1538.

S. 728 – On March 12, 2015, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced the Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Reauthorization Act, or the STOP Act. This bill would direct the Secretary to continue to conduct research and collect data on the short and long-range impact of alcohol use and abuse upon adolescent brain development and other organ systems as well as work in collaboration with the Directors of NIAAA and NIDA, among other federal officials, on the Interagency Coordinating Committee Annual Report on underage drinking and prevention. This legislation would prohibit making, selling, distributing, or possessing powdered alcohol. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

S. 799 – On March 19, 2015, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced the Protecting Our Infants Act, to combat the rise of prenatal opioid abuse and neonatal abstinence syndrome. The bill was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. See H.R. 1462.

S. 987 – On April 16, 2015, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Small Business Tax Equity Act, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow deductions and credits relating to expenditures in connection with marijuana sales conducted in compliance with State law. The bill was referred to the Committee on Finance. See H.R. 1855.