The core of news and information for the ACTS community.
Congress and the administration made progress on several fronts before adjourning towards the end of February for the Presidents’ Day recess. Most notably, appropriators announced a bipartisan deal and framework to complete the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 spending bills. The House and Senate then passed a new Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government operating until March 11th, as they draft the final FY 2022 spending bill(s). Specific details of the final spending measures remain unclear, but both parties and both chambers appear satisfied with the ongoing work. Congress is expected to maintain proposed funding increases for medical research and public health programs while negotiating divisive policy riders and adding some funding for additional defense spending (particularly in the wake of the situation in Ukraine). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has invited President Biden to visit the House chamber on March 1st for the State of the Union address. This event marks the first time since the height of the pandemic that there will be a large group inside the Capitol as all lawmakers are currently invited to attend. However, legislators are expected to follow strict COVID protocols related to masking and vaccinations in order to attend, and the Capitol complex remains closed to groups of visitors. In a narrow (and bipartisan) vote, the Senate confirmed Dr. Robert Califf as Administrator of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr. Califf previously held the post during the Obama Administration, but as a sign of the times, the confirmation process at that time was considerably more expedient and the vote much more comfortable. In the wake of the Departure of Eric Lander from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the administration announced that Dr. Alondra Nelson and former NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins would will take on leadership roles to ensure maintenance of ongoing efforts. OSTP is currently working with Congress to reinvigorate the Cancer Moonshot, establish the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), and identify candidates for the next NIH Director. OSTP Director is a cabinet-level position and President Biden will ultimately need to nominate someone who will then need to be confirmed by the Senate.