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Working With A New Congress

November 15, 2010
Having experienced many election nights as a state legislator and Member of Congress, I still can't help feeling that nervous excitement that all candidates get as they await the returns. This year was no exception. Though very happy not to have my name on the ballot, I was keenly interested, as I'm sure you were, in the unfolding drama and in what the results would mean for our country and for the future of the biotech industry.

As many pundits expected, the mid-term elections of Nov. 2 brought significant change to the political landscape, both in Washington, D.C. and in state capitals. As always, elections bring new leaders to the fore and new challenges and opportunities for biotech. What remains unchanged is BIO's determined advocacy for public policies that incentivize biotech innovation, job growth, and the global competitiveness of America’s biotech industry.

When the 112th Congress convenes in January 2011, the House of Representatives will have a Republican majority after four years of Democratic control. A new Speaker and leadership team will be setting the agenda, along with new committee and subcommittee chairmen. In the U.S. Senate, although Democrats retained their majority, increased numbers of Republican members will alter the dynamics in that chamber as well.

Along with BIO's extremely effective federal advocacy team, I look forward to meeting the freshmen members of Congress and renewing our relationships with returning legislators in the coming weeks and months. Biotechnology continues to enjoy support from members of both parties. This was evident in the strong bipartisan support for the pathway for approval of biosimilars and for the Therapeutic Discovery Project Credit, both adopted as part of the Affordable Care Act earlier this year.

In the next Congress, BIO will continue to be a strong voice on these and other issues affecting our industry. Our to-do list includes:

  • Advocate for Congress and the administration to expand and extend the Therapeutic Discovery Program and take other steps to help keep innovative small companies in the hunt for the next new breakthrough therapy;

  • Remain closely engaged in the implementation of the biosimilars legislation and other provisions of health care reform that will impact our companies;

  • Press for sufficient funding for NIH research and to provide the FDA with the resources it needs to fully perform its important health and safety mission;

  • Work to ensure that incentives for development of renewable energy sources are maintained and strengthened, and to uphold science-based standards for evaluating biotech innovations that improve animal health and welfare, increasing livestock productivity, increase crop yields, and improve agricultural sustainability;

  • Continue our efforts to ensure that the U.S. patent system continues to fully protect the rights of innovators and incentivize new discoveries.

Nov. 2 also brought the election of 29 new governors who will take office next year, along with hundreds of state legislators. BIO's state government affairs team, working closely with our state affiliate associations, has already begun the process of reaching out the newly elected governors. Creating jobs and getting their state economies moving forward again will be a top priority for virtually every governor across the country. Biotechnology is a strong sector of the domestic economy, directly employing 1.42 million Americans in high-wage, high-quality jobs while supporting an additional 6.6 million jobs throughout the United States. We will work closely with governors and state legislatures to help them develop the policies that will spur the growth of state biotech sectors, grow local economies, and increase local job opportunities.

I offer my congratulations to the winners of the federal, state and local elections. I know they have much hard work and many difficult challenges ahead. We in the biotechnology industry are eager to work with them and to do our part to heal, fuel, and feed the world.