National Institutes of Health

Appropriators seek to wrap up talks this weekend
But panel members acknowledge ‘hurdles’ as Dec. 20 deadline for bill passage looms

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, on Thursday said he was “more enthusiastic than I was a couple of days ago” that final negotiations on spending bills could be done this weekend. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Spending bill negotiators set their sights on wrapping up a year-end deal by this weekend, but they differed on how realistic that deadline might be.

With only two weeks left before current funding runs dry, appropriators are hoping to finalize work on all 12 spending bills and pass them by Dec. 20 to avoid another stopgap measure or possible government shutdown. But unless a deal comes together in the next several days, lawmakers have warned, there likely won’t be enough time to write the bills and move them through both chambers before the holiday recess.

Marijuana criminalization could be clouding info on vaping deaths
Restrictions on THC-related research collide with a public health emergency

Demonstrators vape during a pro-vaping rally outside the White House on Nov. 9 to protest Washington’s proposed vaping flavor ban. (Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images file photo)

In late October, as the number of people sickened with a mysterious vaping-related illness grew, federal officials turned to the nation’s leading academic researchers for help.

“They wondered what, in our opinion, they should be taking a look at,” said Robert Tarran, director of the University of North Carolina Center for Tobacco Regulatory Science and Lung Health.

Senate panel approves Trump's FDA nominee
Senators ask questions about the FDA's plans for regulating e-cigarettes

Stephen Hahn, nominee to be commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Nov. 20. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Senate panel approved President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration amid questions from both parties about the agency’s plans for regulating flavored e-cigarettes.

The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 18-5 to advance to the Senate floor the nomination of medical executive and doctor Stephen Hahn.

Teens like vaping mint and mango Juul flavors over menthol and tobacco, study finds
The study comes amid speculation that the Trump administration may not include menthol in the flavored e-cigarette ban

A new National Institutes of Health-funded study found teens prefer mint and mango-flavored e-cigarettes over tobacco and menthol flavors. The study also found that of the teens who use vapes, two-thirds use Juul products. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A new National Institutes of Health-funded study published Tuesday said that menthol flavoring is one of the least popular e-cigarette flavors among teenagers, amid speculation that the Trump administration may not include menthol in the flavored e-cigarette ban it proposed in September.

That proposal cleared the White House Office of Management and Budget on Monday afternoon, which is the last step before public release.

Coal-burning utility boosts lobbying, may get eased regulations
New rules proposed by Trump administration would eliminate some Obama-era environmental protections for coal ash

A coal ash pile in Guayama, Puerto Rico. The pile’s owner, Arlington-based AES Corp., has asked the Trump administration to relax regulations for the disposal of toxic residues from burning coal.  (Courtesy Mabette Colon)

On Oct. 2, 19-year-old Mabette Colon traveled from her hometown in Puerto Rico to Arlington, Virginia, to try to persuade the EPA to abandon its efforts to ease regulations for the disposal of toxic residues from burning coal.

Colon said she grew up less than a mile from what activists describe as a nine-story-tall pile of coal ash owned by Arlington-based AES Corp. in the town of Guayama. She worries that under the Trump administration revisions proposed Monday, which have not yet been publicly released, the company could pollute with impunity and further expose her community to the toxic pollutants that have sickened her neighbors.

Trump to nominate Texas cancer hospital leader to head FDA
Stephen Hahn is currently the chief medical executive at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston

The Food and Drug Administration headquarters in White Oak, Md. President Donald Trump Friday nominated Stephen Hahn, a doctor and cancer treatment hospital executive to lead the agency. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump on Friday announced he intends to nominate Stephen Hahn, a doctor and executive at one of the country’s leading cancer treatment hospitals, to be the next Food and Drug Administration commissioner.

Hahn is currently the chief medical executive at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He is trained as a radiation oncologist, a field that uses radiation to kill cancer cells and tumors or slow their growth.

Impeachment news roundup: Oct. 18
Cleaning up after Mulvaney; Perry won't comply with subpoena; former ambassador blames Giuliani

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney answers questions from reporters at the White House on Thursday. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

After weeks of “no quid pro quo” with Ukraine replacing “no collusion” with the Russians in President Donald Trump’s responses to the investigations into his administration, Mick Mulvaney, his acting chief of staff, said there was a quid pro quo.

Then he and the White House spent the following hours Thursday trying to put that genie back in the bottle. But, in true Trump-style, his 2020 campaign decided to capitalize on the press conference by selling a T-shirt emblazoned with one of the more memorable lines from Mulvaney’s press conference.  

Educating K Street: Colleges and universities seek influence in Congress, executive branch
Schools are in the midst of heated immigration, health care and technology debates

Stu Van Scoyoc is president and CEO of Van Scoyoc Associates. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lobbyist Stu Van Scoyoc began working for the University of Alabama system three decades ago, helping the school smooth over a problem the 1986 tax overhaul created for its pension program. It’s still a client.

Lobbying on behalf of colleges and universities has been a mainstay of K Street work for years for firms like Van Scoyoc Associates. And many of the biggest spending university systems maintain their own lobbying outposts in Washington with in-house employees who monitor Capitol Hill and executive branch debates and look for federal funding opportunities, relying often on home-state and alumni connections.

NIH could do more to address foreign threats, reports say
Reports stem from congressional fears that NIH-backed researchers could share taxpayer-funded research with foreign governments

HHS auditors urge research institutions like the National Institutes of Health to follow requirements to disclose foreign funding and consider national security in the peer-review vetting system. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

The National Institutes of Health should do more to ensure that investigators and grant reviewers aren’t susceptible to foreign influence, according to a trio of reports from the Health and Human Services inspector general released Friday.

The inspector general recommended that the NIH enhance its vetting processes for the independent researchers who review grant applications. The agency could also do more to ensure that research institutions comply with requirements to ensure that investigators disclose all of their funding sources.

Shootings add to pressure on gun violence research funding push
House-passed fiscal 2020 Labor-HHS-Education spending bill would provide $25 million on gun violence research

Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt, R-Mo., is looking to avoid contentious issues in bipartisan spending bills. (File photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers under pressure to address mass shootings could provide millions for research on gun violence, which would help fill a knowledge gap about policies that are most effective at reducing injuries and death, as Congress attempts to fund the government by Oct. 1.

House Democrats have proposed $50 million to study gun violence, and academics say the government funding could ensure that the data collection infrastructure is adequate to support a broad research enterprise.