House Approves Creation Of Health Innovation Agency

The bill to create the Advanced Research Projects Agency overwhelmingly passed the House in a 336-85 vote. But there is still a debate over organizational independence and whether ARPA-H should be a branch of NIH.

The Hill: House Passes Bill To Create Health Agency Focused On Biomedical Innovation

The House passed a bill on Wednesday to create a new health agency centered on expediting biomedical innovation in an effort to find innovative mechanisms to detect and treat a range of diseases including cancer. The legislation, dubbed the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Health Act, passed in a 336-85 vote, with all “no” votes coming from Republicans. Six Republicans and two Democrats did not vote. (Schnell, 6/22)

Stat: Debate Over ARPA-H’s Independence Isn’t As Settled As It Seems

[Rep. Anna] Eshoo’s bill would establish the new agency as a standalone entity—explicitly housed outside the NIH. The move puts her at odds with Biden, Becerra, and interim White House science adviser Francis Collins. The Biden administration has already made its displeasure known: In a Tuesday statement, the White House reiterated its support for housing the new agency within the NIH. Biden officials also said they were “concerned” with a provision in Eshoo’s bill that protects the ARPA-H director’s right to testify before Congress without clearing their remarks with the White House first. (Facher, 6/23)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Delegation Pushes Feds To Base New Health Research Agency In Georgia

A newly launched federal health agency will eventually need its own home, and all 16 members of Georgia’s congressional delegation, representing both chambers and both parties, are joining together in hopes of making the state that choice. The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health was created with $1 billion in funding contained in the appropriations bill that President Joe Biden signed into law in March. Biden first proposed creating the agency in 2021, saying it would “improve the US government’s capabilities to speed research that can improve the health of all Americans.” Georgia’s two senators and 14 US House members sent a letter to federal health officials Tuesday trumpeting the state as a good fit for the new agency’s mission. (Mitchell, 6/22)

In updates on free universal lunch in schools —

Detroit Free Press: Keep Kids Fed Act Gets Bipartisan Support As Universal Lunch Ends

Federal lawmakers have reached a bipartisan deal that doesn’t continue pandemic-era free universal lunch in schools but does increase the number of students who could qualify based on income. Universal free lunch was instituted at the start of the pandemic to ensure children wouldn’t go hungry through the crisis. US Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., announced the new $3 billion deal Tuesday, along with US Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Bobby Scott, D-Va., and US Rep. Virginia Foxx, RN.C. Congress must pass the legislation, called the Keep Kids Fed Act, by June 30, when current meal waivers are set to expire. (Altavena, 6/22)

Politico: GOP Senator Considering Blocking School Meal Funding Deal Over Transgender Policy Fight

A Republican senator is thinking about blowing up a bipartisan deal to extend school meals funding because of a Biden administration policy banning discrimination against LGBTQ students who participate in lunch programs that receive the money. Democratic leaders are rushing to pass the legislation and get it to President Joe Biden’s desk before current funding runs out June 30, triggering a hunger cliff for millions of children. Senate Republican leaders, who blocked previous attempts at a year-long extension of the funds, haven’t made any threats to tank the bill this time around, according to three people involved in the talks. But any one senator can object and block the expedited effort, requiring a recorded floor vote and eating up precious time. (Lee, 6/22)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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