Breaking the Mold

The 21st Century Cures Act

I hear it often when I am back in my District in Florida — Washington is broken, politicians are beholden to the interests of the powerful, the voice of the many is lost, nothing productive gets done in DC, and partisan bickering has completely consumed the American political system.

There are kernels of truth to those sentiments — the partisan divide is wider than it has been in a very long time.

However, the Energy and Commerce Committee has produced a bill, the 21st Century Cures Act, which is truly transformative. This bill breaks the mold.

It was an idea to have conversations, and bring everyone into the fold to solve a problem — the lack of cures and treatments for patients. My colleagues and I on the Energy and Commerce on both sides of the aisle met with our constituents, patients from across the spectrum, patient advocates, caregivers, representatives from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), other government entities, researchers, clinicians, physicians, and any other stakeholders we could find.

It is rare that such significant legislation is formed the way the 21st Century Cures Act was written.

We wrote a bill, together, that overhauls outdated regulations, robustly funds NIH, brings the FDA into the 21st century, and helps people.

The Energy and Commerce Committee and its members held over thirty hearings and roundtables in Washington DC and around the nation.

I was pleased to hold two roundtables in Florida; one focused on the patient perspective, and one featuring health care providers. These nation-wide hearings and roundtables went on for over a year. The Committee also heard from stakeholders through white papers and open, transparent commenting periods on discussion draft versions of the bill that would come to be named the 21st Century Cures Act.

It was an above board, transparent, engaging, and collaborative process that is hardly seen in Washington.

This bill passed the Energy and Commerce Committee by a vote of 51–0. Tomorrow, I expect the full House to pass the 21st Century Cures Act in overwhelming bipartisan fashion. Getting a unanimous vote in any Committee is hard, unless you are naming a post office or awarding a Congressional gold medal. The 21st Century Cures Act is a meaningful, impactful, and substantive overhaul, and modernization of a significant portion of the American health care system.

People say that Washington is broken. The 21st Century Cures Act is a prime example of Congress acting to benefit the people.

When Republicans and Democrats can put partisanship aside, recognize there is a problem, and come together to solve it, great things can happen.

Too many of us know what it is like to have a sick relative or friend. Disease, unfortunately, touches almost every American.

Congressman Gus Bilirakis meets with Max, a young boy suffering from Noonan Syndrome
The 21st Century Cures Act will help people.

It includes an increase in spending at the National Institutes of Health (an investment well worth it), and fully pays for all spending. Who says you can’t help people and be mindful of the budget?

I tell my constituents that I am here in Washington to help them. I want to make government work for them, and I want to support bills that will make their lives better. The 21st Century Cures is unequivocally and undoubtedly one of the best things Congress has done in decades.

Washington is broken? The 21st Century Cures Act, and the 51 members of the Energy and Commerce Committee who came together to write the bill, are proof things can still work in a city famed for running on ‘northern charm and southern efficiency.’

I am proud to be a part of this effort.

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