Tomorrow, the House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act. While well-intentioned, the bill would add a new mandatory spending program to the bill. Mandatory spending programs are funded on auto-pilot, and it takes special effort to cut the spending.
LLPH favorite Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA 7), who famously defeated Former Majority Leader Eric Cantor, stated,
“The 21st Century Cures Act makes positive reforms to get medicines and medical devices through the FDA approval process and to patients quicker, but the bill contains a serious flaw. It creates a new mandatory program, the NIH and Cures Innovation Fund, that increases spending on the National Institutes of Health by nearly $2 billion per year for the next five years. ‘Mandatory’ programs don’t require Congress to pass subsequent annual appropriations bills; instead, their spending continues on autopilot.
“This is the major issue I ran on. Autopilot spending is a major source of our unconscionable debt burden. Current autopilot programs have already promised $127 trillion in future spending that the government won’t have the revenue to pay for. All federal revenues will be consumed by these current mandatory programs by 2027, which means there will be no revenues left for defense, transportation, education, or other government services. With that in mind, how can we consider adding one more program to mandatory spending? Everyone except Congress knows the answer has to be ‘we can’t.’
“If this bill saves lives and advances research, put it up at the top of the list. Fund it. Vote for it. But do not add another mandatory spending program that’s outside of budgetary controls and that’s done to evade budget discipline. It’s just more spending today that our kids will have to pay for tomorrow.
“The federal government is not in a financial situation to support new programs without meaningful offsets of other spending. The offsets for this new program are not the kind of true structural reforms that we need.
“I support nearly all of the bill’s regulatory reforms. That’s why I’m offering an amendment to bring the NIH and Cures Innovation Fund onto the discretionary part of the budget, where it should be a priority within the budget caps. This amendment allows us to advance a medical innovation reform bill while also keeping our promise to be fiscally responsible to the taxpayers.”
Our allies at Freedomworks stated,
With our nation over 18 trillion in debt, and no sign of fiscal responsibility from Congress, the last thing we need is more mandatory spending that will end up bankrupting us. We will never dig ourselves out of this hole by continuing the policies that have led to our nearly bankrupt entitlement programs. By putting spending on autopilot, it becomes increasingly difficult for Congress to exercise fiscal restraint and balance the federal budget. This amendment, offered by Rep. Dave Brat, maintains accountability for this $1.86 billion spending program by making it discretionary rather than mandatory.
The federal government should not be authorizing new spending for scientific or health-related research at all, as such things are better handled by private markets, but designating such spending as mandatory makes the problem far worse. The Brat amendment corrects one of the worst things about a bad bill, and for this reason we encourage Members of the House of Representatives to support it.
Many conservatives believe that increased research to find cures is an appropriate role for government. LLPH believes there is legitimate debate among conservatives on this issue. That is why we are not key voting against the bill, H.R. 6. What is NOT debatable is the fact that we must get spending under control, and this new program should be held accountable every fiscal year. Therefore, we urge a STRONG YES vote on this amendment. We especially thank Representatives Brat (VA-7), McClintock (CA-4), Garrett (NJ-5), Stutzman (IN-3), and Perry (PA-4), all of whom are favorites of LLPH for offering this amendment. This amendment could likely separate the true conservatives from those who give lip service to fiscal responsibility. We may score this vote as a MAJOR VOTE in our scorecard.