Grassley Releases OIG Report on Research Integrity

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has released a report from the HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) finding that at least a dozen scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have been flagged by the agency due to concerns about foreign government influence on their medical research. The researchers were referred for investigation due to allegations of a failure to disclose foreign government affiliations. The report was issued in response to a request from Grassley, who has stated his intent to continue to scrutinize foreign threats to taxpayer-funded research and the security of intellectual property. According to Grassley, the OIG is currently assessing the NIH’s vetting and oversight processes related to research integrity.

WH Budget Request Expected March 11

The President is expected to send a top-line budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2020 to lawmakers the week of March 11, with more detailed information coming the following week. The White House budget proposal was technically due last week but was delayed due to the 35-day partial government shutdown.

Longest Serving Member of Congress, John Dingell, Dies

Michigan Democrat John Dingell Jr., the longest-serving congressman in U.S. history, died last week. He was 92. Dingell served in the Army during World War II. He won a special election to succeed his father in Congress in 1955. Dingell remained in the House until January 2015, when he was succeeded by his wife, Debbie Dingell. During his time in Congress, he served as the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee twice. He also presided over the House floor proceedings that led to the both the creation of Medicare and, 40 years later, the ACA.

HHS Personnel Updates

HHS announced several new appointments and departures from the department last week. Amanda Anger, professional staff member of the Committee on House Administration, has been appointed to serve as Director of Congressional Relations in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources. Bryan Shuy has been appointed to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary and Chief of Staff for the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. He previously served in the Office of Congressman Andy Harris (R-Md.) and has also held roles at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Scott Blakeman has been appointed Assistant Speechwriter in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs. He formerly worked as a communications strategist in the House Natural Resources Committee. Cheryl Vincent will serve as Director of Legislative Affairs at the Administration of Children and Families. She previously served as professional staff in the House Committee on Ways and Means. Courtney Bradway has been appointed to serve as Director of the Office of Congressional Liaison in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Legislation. She joins HHS from the office of Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). Jordan Cox has been appointed to serve as an advisor in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Legislation. Cox previously served as a legislative assistant for Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.). Nicholas Uehlecke has been appointed to serve as an advisor in the Office of the Secretary. He comes to HHS from the House Committee on Ways and Means.

HHS also announced the departures of Renee Ellmers, Regional Director – Region IV, Emily Felder, Director of the CMS Office of Legislation, and Stephen Waskiewicz, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings and Meetings

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing “Managing Pain During the Opioid Crisis;” 10:00 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.; February 12

House Ways and Means Committee hearing “The Cost of Rising Prescription Drug Prices;” 10:00 a.m., 1100 Longworth Bldg.; February 12

House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies hearing “Food and Drug Administration – Status of Operations;” 10:00 a.m., 2358-A Rayburn Bldg.; February 12

House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing “Strengthening Our Health Care System: Legislation to Reverse ACA Sabotage and Ensure Pre-Existing Conditions Protections;” the committee will discuss H.R. 986, the “Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act of 2019;” H.R. 987, the “Marketing and Outreach Restoration to Empower Health Education Act of 2019;” and H.R. 1010, To provide that the rule entitled “Short-Term, Limited Duration Insurance” shall have no force or effect; 10:30 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Bldg.; February 13

House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies hearing “Long Term Healthcare Challenges and Long Term Care;” 2:00 p.m., HT-2 Capitol Bldg.; February 13

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, and Education, and Related Agencies hearing to examine the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other emerging health threats; 10:00 a.m., 124 Dirksen Bldg.; February 14

Senate Finance Committee hearing on drug pricing, featuring the testimony of seven major pharmaceutical companies; time and place TBD; February 26

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