Recent Public Laws

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In addition to legislative proposals pending in the current Congress, this page provides summaries of recent cancer-related legislation that has passed in both the House and Senate and has been signed into law by the President.

The public laws highlighted here were selected for inclusion due to ongoing interest among the cancer community.

21st Century Cures Act, P.L. 114-255 (H.R. 6/H.R. 34)

  • On December 13, 2016, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act (“Cures”) into law.  The nearly 1,000-page bill passed the House 392-26 and the Senate by a vote of 94-5.  Key provisions for NIH aim to coordinate policies relating to early career investigators, improve loan repayment programs, and streamline procedural requirements for attendance at scientific meetings.  Cures reauthorizes the NIH for FY2018-FY2020 at the following levels: 
    • $34,851,000,000 for FY 2018
      • $35,585,871,000 for FY 2019
      • $36,472,442,775 for FY 2020
    • In addition, Cures creates a $4.8 billion "NIH Innovation Account."  The funds in the Innovation Account support these specific projects:
      • Precision Medicine Initiative -- $1.45 billion over the next 10 years
      • Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot -- $1.8 billion over the next seven years
      • BRAIN Initiative -- $1.511 million over the next 10 years
      • Regenerative Medicines -- $30 million over the next four years
    • Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot:  One of the key features of the NIH Innovation Account is the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot.  This provision of the law was renamed via a joint amendment introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), in honor of Vice President Joe Biden's son Beau, who passed away from cancer in 2015.  The $1.8 billion for the Cancer Moonshot was authorized to be appropriated as follows:
      • $300 million for FY 2017
      • $300 million for FY 2018
      • $400 million for FY 2019
      • $195 million for FY 2020
      • $195 million for FY 2021
      • $194 million for FY 2022
      • $216 million for FY 2023
    • Per the Cures statute, the purpose of the Cancer Moonshot funding is: To support cancer research, such as the development of cancer vaccines, the development of more sensitive diagnostic tests for cancer, immunotherapy and the development of combination therapies, and research that has the potential to transform the scientific field, that has inherently higher risk, and that seeks to address major challenges related to cancer.
    • Read the full bill text on

    Breast Cancer Commemorative Coin Act, P.L. 114-148 (H.R. 2722/S.2185)

    • The bill aims to establish a Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative Coin by requiring the Secretary of the Treasury to mint up to 50,000 $5 gold coins (to be sold for $35 per coin), up to 400,000 $1 silver coins (to be sold for $10 per coin), and up to 750,000 half-dollar coins (to be sold for $5 per coin) in 2018. Once the cost of design and issuance of the coins is covered, the surcharge would be paid to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation to further research funded by the organization.
    • Rep. Carolyn Mahoney (D-NY) introduced H.R. 2722 on 6/10/2015. The bill was referred to the Committees on Financial Services; and the Budget. S.2722 was introduced by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on 10/20/15.
    • The House passed H.R. 2722 on 7/15/2015 after it was amended to remove Susan G. Komen as a co-recipient after a number of Republican Members of the House objected to the organization’s support for breast cancer screening services provided by Planned Parenthood. The Senate passed the bill on 4/19/2016. The President signed the bill into law (P.L. 114-148) on 4/29/2016.
    • Read the full bill text on

    Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2015, P.L. 114-116 (S.142/H.R. 1375/H.R.3243)

    • The bill would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to promulgate a rule to require child safety packaging for liquid nicotine containers.
    • The law shall not be construed to limit or otherwise affect the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services to regulate, issue guidance, or take action regarding the manufacture, marketing, sale, distribution, importation, or packaging, including child-resistant packaging, of nicotine, liquid nicotine, liquid nicotine containers, electronic cigarettes, electronic nicotine delivery systems or other similar products.
    • Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced S. 142 on 1/8/2015 and the bill was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) introduced H.R. 1375 on 3/16/15 and the bill was referred to Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) introduced H.R. 3243 on 7/28/2015 and the bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
    • The Senate passed S. 142 on 12/10/2015, and the House passed the bill on 1/11/2016. The President signed the bill into law (P.L. 114-116) on 1/28/2016.
    • Read the full bill text on

    Breast Cancer Research Stamp Reauthorization Act of 2015, P.L. 114-99 (S.1170/H.R. 2191)

    • The bill would extend the authority of the U.S. Postal Service to issue a semipostal to raise funds for breast cancer research through 2019. Seventy percent of the net proceeds from the Breast Cancer Research Stamp surcharge go to the National Institutes of Health for breast cancer research and 30 percent to the Department of Defense for the same purpose.
    • Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) introduced H.R. 2191 on 4/30/2015. The bill was referred to the Committees on Armed Services; Energy and Commerce; and Oversight and Government Reform. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced S. 1170 on 4/30/2015. The bill was referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
    • The Senate passed S. 1170 by Unanimous Consent on 9/22/2015 and the House passed it on 12/1/2015. The President signed the bill into law (P.L. 114-99) on 12/11/15.
    • Read the full bill text on

    Early Act Reauthorization of 2014, P.L. 113-265 (H.R. 5185/S. 2655; 113th Congress)

    • The bill aims to reauthorize the Young Women’s Breast Health Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young (EARLY) Act of 2009 for a period of 5 years. The EARLY Act was originally signed into law as section 10413 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148) on 3/23/10.
    • Consistent with the original law, the reauthorization proposes to increase awareness of breast cancer risks in young women (15 – 39 years old) and to provide support for those diagnosed with breast cancer.
    • The reauthorization would direct CDC to continue implementation of the EARLY Act provisions signed into law in 2010 and does not include new provisions. The bill would direct the CDC to continue to conduct a national evidence-based education campaign to increase public awareness regarding breast cancer in young women, especially regarding risks faced by ethnic and cultural groups. Additionally, the bill would direct the CDC, in consultation with HRSA, to continue an education campaign to increase awareness among physicians and other health care professionals of risk factors, risk reduction strategies, early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer in young women.
    • The bill would also direct the CDC to continue to conduct prevention research on breast cancer in younger women; continue to support research aimed at measuring their awareness of the disease; and continue the activities of its Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer in Young Women.
    • The bill would authorize $9 M for each fiscal year from 2015 through 2019. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Renee Ellmers (R-NC) introduced H.R. 5185 on 7/24/2014, and Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and David Vitter (R-LA) introduced S. 2655 on 7/24/14. H.R. 5185 was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and S.2655 was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. The House passed H.R. 5185 on 12/9/14 by voice vote and the Senate passed it by unanimous consent on 12/15/14. The President signed it into law (P.L. 113-265) on 12/18/2014.
    • Read the full bill text on

    Sunscreen Innovation Act, P.L. 113-195 (H.R. 4250/S. 2141, 113th Congress)

    • The bills aim to accelerate FDA review and approval of sunscreens with new active ingredients. FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research would be required to complete its review of eligible applications within 300 days of the request being filed. If the center did not act within that time, the request would be transferred to the FDA Commissioner for review within 60 days.
    • Provisions in the bills are specific to FDA, and NCI would not have any responsibility for implementation.
    • H.R. 4250 was originally introduced by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) on 3/13/14, and Jack Reed (D-RI) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) introduced a companion bill, S. 2141 on the same date. The Senate passed S. 2141 on 9/17/14, agreeing to the measure by Unanimous Consent. The House passed S. 2141 by unanimous consent on 11/13/14. The President signed it into law (P.L. 113-195) on 11/26/2014.
    • Read the full bill text on

    Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, P.L. 113-94 (H.R.2019, 113th Congress)

    • This law amends the Internal Revenue Code to eliminate taxpayer financing of political party conventions and to reprogram savings to provide for a 10-year pediatric research initiative administered through the National Institutes of Health Common Fund.
      • The bill calls for funds for political conventions currently in accounts maintained by national committees of political parties to be transferred to a fund in the Treasury to be known as the “10-Year Pediatric Research Initiative Fund” in the amount of $12.6 million per year for fiscal years 2014-2023.
      • The funds are to be made available to NIH Common Fund “in such amounts as are provided in advance in appropriation Acts.”
      • Effect of the law is limited to identifying a specific source of funds and authorizing an appropriation to the NIH Common Fund. By itself, the law does not actually provide any funds to NIH.
      • As pointed out by Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) (Ranking Members of the House Appropriations Committee and Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, respectively), in order for NIH to receive such funds, Congressional Appropriators must include a specific appropriation of funds in the Labor-HHS Appropriations Act each year. If this does not happen, the funds remain in the Treasury “10-Year Pediatric Research Initiative Fund” indefinitely. Reps. Lowey and DeLauro also noted that the appropriations needed to make these funds available would be fully subject to the spending caps in place under the Budget Control Act, and to the budget resolution spending allocations to the Appropriations Committee and Labor-HHS Subcommittee. This means that an increase in appropriations to NIH by the “10-Year Pediatric Research Initiative Fund” would need to be offset by a reduction elsewhere in the Labor-HHS-Education bill.
    • H.R. 2019 was introduced by Rep. Gregg Harper on 5/16/13, as the Kids First Research Act, and was renamed in honor of Gabriella Miller, a 10-year-old girl from Virginia who passed away in October 2013 due to a pediatric brain tumor, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma.
    • H.R. 2019 was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Health, as well as the House Committees on Administration, and Ways and Means. The bill did not proceed through mark up and was not passed out of committee. On 12/11/13, the House passed the bill under suspension of the rules, in a vote of 295-103. On 3/11/13, the Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent. The President signed the bill into law on 4/4/14.
    • Read the full bill text on
    • Learn about the implementation of the Gabriella Miller Kids First research Act and the NIH Common Fund’s Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Program

    Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act of 2012, P.L. 112-239 (S. Amdt. 3180 to S. 3254/H.R. 4310, 112th Congress)

    • Initially, bills were introduced on 2/16/11 as the Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act (H.R. 733/S. 362). These bills were specific to pancreatic cancer and included provisions that would: require NCI to establish a pancreatic cancer initiative; require HHS to establish an Interdisciplinary Pancreatic Cancer Coordinating Committee with authority to make recommendations regarding the prioritization and award of NIH research grants relating to pancreatic cancer; require NCI and CDC to develop a communication tool kit for patients and their families focused on pancreatic cancer issues.
    • Prior to consideration by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, H.R. 733 was modified. In action by the Health Subcommittee, on 9/11/12, an amendment was approved that replaced the original bill with new text and the title was changed to the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act.
    • The bill, as amended would require NCI to develop a scientific framework to conduct and support research for “recalcitrant cancers,” defined initially as cancers with a five-year survival rate of less than 20 percent and estimated to cause at least 30,000 deaths per year in the United States. Pancreatic cancer and a grouping of four types of lung cancer would qualify under this definition.
    • For each recalcitrant cancer, NCI is directed to convene a working group of Federal and non-Federal entities to provide expertise and assistance in developing the scientific framework. The frameworks are to be completed within 18 months of enactment, then submitted to Congress and made publicly available on the HHS website within 30 days. The Act calls for review and update to these frameworks not later than five years after initial development, and one-time reports on the effectiveness of each framework not later than six years after initial development.
    • The bill requires that actions undertaken to carry out each scientific framework be reported in the NIH Biennial report, with an assessment of progress made in improving outcomes for recalcitrant cancers.
    • The bill further states that the NCI Director “shall consider each relevant scientific framework when making recommendations for exception funding for grant applications.”

    Major Legislative Actions:

    • H.R. 733, titled the Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act, was introduced by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) on 2/16/11 and was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health.
    • S. 362, titled the Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act, was introduced by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) on 2/16/11 and was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
    • H.R. 733 as amended, titled the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act, was passed by the House on 9/19/12 and was received in the Senate on 9/20/12.
    • S. 3566 was introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin on 9/19/12. This bill, including the new text of H.R. 733, titled the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act, replaced S. 362.
    • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), offered the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act as an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (S. Amdt. 3180 to S. 3254 / H.R. 4310). The amendment passed the Senate on 11/29/12, and was included in the final bill, H.R. 4310, which passed the House on 12/20/12 and the Senate on 12/21/12. The President signed the bill into law on 1/2/13 (P.L. 112-239).


    The NCI is meeting the requirements of the RCRA and has already delivered to Congress “scientific framework” reports on both pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC), two cancer types meeting the criteria for cancers as defined in the RCRA. Reports to NCI’s Clinical and Translational Research Advisory Committee (CTAC) at regular intervals will inform the public of progress on PDAC and SCLC (read the November 2015 update and report; read the March 2015 update; read the November 2014 update). This approach, it should be noted, is not unique to these cancer types: workshops to identify scientific opportunities relevant to many types of cancer occur as part of NCI's standard practices.

    The scientific framework for PDAC was completed and delivered to Congress in February 2014. NCI is addressing the recommendations made in that report, including the relationship between PDAC and diabetes mellitus of recent onset; biomarker and imaging studies of pancreatic cysts to identify those at high risk of PDAC; and new immunotherapies. NCI has also begun the RAS Initiative to develop new ways to treat cancers, including PDAC, that are commonly driven by mutations in the RAS gene family. One of the three RAS genes is often mutated in pancreatic, lung, and colorectal cancers, as well as several other cancer types, yet methods for treating such tumors have been difficult to produce. NCI is also investing in the training of the next generation of RAS experts and has joined with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network to support two training fellowships focused on a type of RAS mutation relevant to pancreatic cancer.

    The scientific framework for small cell lung cancer (SCLC) was completed and delivered to Congress in June 2014. The NCI is currently pursuing several research efforts in support of the initiatives recommended in the framework. These include optimizing the collection of tumor tissue specimens representing distinct phases of SCLC (from initial diagnosis to disease recurrence following radio-chemotherapy); developing new tumor models (conditionally-reprogrammed cell lines, patient-derived xenografts, and genetically-engineered mouse models) that reflect the phases of SCLC found in the clinic; expanding comprehensive genomic profiling studies of SCLC specimens; investigating new diagnostic approaches for populations at high risk of developing SCLC; focusing therapeutic development efforts on specific molecular vulnerabilities of SCLC; and investigating the mechanisms underlying both the high initial rate of response to primary SCLC therapy and the rapid emergence of drug and radiation resistance following completion of treatment.

    • Updated: April 11, 2017