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Congressman Robert Pittenger HeadshotYou may have heard about Olympic athlete and North Carolinian Kathleen Baker earlier this week as she won the silver medal in the 100 meter backstroke.

Ms. Baker, like every Olympian, worked unimaginably hard with incredible discipline to earn her spot on the podium. But unlike other Olympians, Ms. Baker had an extra hoop to swim though to achieve her goal as she has Crohn’s disease.

For those unfamiliar, Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition which causes stomach pain, exhaustion, and weight loss. To train for the Olympics, Ms. Baker had to alter and restrict her diet, reduce her work out regiment, and undergo constant blood tests.

Unfortunately, Crohn’s is one of nearly 10,000 known diseases for which we don’t have a cure. While we’ve made significant medical and scientific advancements over the past few decades, our outdated regulatory system has prevented many of these advancements from translating into new cures. To expedite the process of getting treatments and cures from the lab to patients, the House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures Act, which I cosponsored.

The 21st Century Cures Act increases funding for medical research, streamlines the process of bringing new drugs to market, and focuses on rare diseases which might otherwise not receive attention or funding.

Specifically, this legislation provides $1.86 billion per year for five years to create an Innovation Fund to provide incentives for the development of new drugs for rare diseases. The 21st Century Cures Act also modernizes clinical trials to include more patient driven data and breaks down barriers to medical research collaboration.

The 21st Century Cures Act is also fiscally responsible. Bipartisan entitlement reforms will save taxpayers $500 million over the first ten years and over $7 billion during the second ten years, according to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and House Energy and Commerce Committee. We will continue to save additional taxpayer dollars as we find treatments for these costly diseases.

Chairman Alexander of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee has said he hopes to pass 21st Century Cures through the Senate by the end of September.

If passed, this legislation could pave the way for cures to not only Crohn’s disease, but also Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and hundreds more diseases.  Let’s use our country’s unparalleled innovation to keep more Americans like Kathleen Baker in the pool, but without the anchor of chronic diseases.


Last September, I wrote Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to express concern over reports of senior-level Defense Department staff altering intelligence documents, for political purposes, on terrorist activity in Syria.

This week, a Congressional joint task force released an initial report showing U.S. Central Command consistently produced analysis providing “a more positive depiction of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts than was warranted by facts on the ground and were consistently more positive than analysis produced by other elements of the Intelligence Community.”

Thank you to the Members of the joint task force for their valuable work in investigating and confirming the reports of damaging intelligence manipulation.

For years now, President Obama has failed to formulate a comprehensive anti-terrorism strategy. We now know senior Defense Department officials “cooked” intelligence to paint a rosier picture in the fight against ISIS. From referring to ISIS as a “JV team” to now altering intelligence, President Obama has clearly created an administration-wide culture of subterfuge and not acknowledged the threat of radical Islamic terrorism with the serious gravity it requires.

The intelligence-gathering process should remain non-partisan. Those who impede the impartiality of the process have threatened the safety of every man and woman in uniform and need to be held accountable.

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