Improving the Health of Children Act

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 8, 2021
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 5551) to amend title III of the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, and for other purposes, as amended.

The Clerk read the title of the bill.

The text of the bill is as follows: H.R. 5551

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ``Improving the Health of Children Act''. SEC. 2. REAUTHORIZATION OF THE NATIONAL CENTER ON BIRTH DEFECTS AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES.

Section 317C of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 247b-4) is amended--

(1) by striking subsection (a)(4) and inserting the following:

``(4) Specific programs.--The Secretary, acting through the Director of the Center, shall continue to carry out programs related to--

``(A) early identification of developmental delay and disability;

``(B) birth defects;

``(C) folic acid;

``(D) cerebral palsy;

``(E) intellectual disabilities;

``(F) child development;

``(G) newborn screening;

``(H) autism;

``(I) fragile X syndrome;

``(J) fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and other conditions related to prenatal substance use;

``(K) pediatric genetic disorders;

``(L) neuromuscular diseases;

``(M) congenital heart defects;

``(N) attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder;

``(O) stillbirth;

``(P) Tourette Syndrome; or

``(Q) any other relevant disease, disability, disorder, or condition, as determined the Secretary.'';

(2) in subsection (c), in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by striking ``Not later than February 1'' and all that follows through ``2 fiscal years--'' and inserting the following: ``The Secretary shall submit biennially to the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives, and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate, a report that--''; and

(3) in subsection (f), by striking ``such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2003 through 2007'' and inserting ``$186,010,000 for each of fiscal years 2022 through 2026''. SEC. 3. EFFECTS OF FOLIC ACID IN PREVENTION OF BIRTH DEFECTS.

Section 317J of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 247b-11) is amended by striking subsection (e) (relating to authorization of appropriations).

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Mr. PALLONE. 5551.

I rise in support of H.R. 5551, the Improving the Health of Children Act, which reauthorizes the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. This center was established by Congress in 2000 to improve the health of millions of our Nation's most vulnerable citizens, our infants and children, people with disabilities, and people with blood disorders. It is the only center at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention whose mission focuses on these populations.

Birth defects, Mr. Speaker, affect 1 in 33 babies and are a leading cause of infant death in the United States. Children with birth defects who survive often experience lifelong physical and mental disabilities. In addition, over 500,000 children are diagnosed with a developmental disability each year.

Blood disorders such as sickle cell disease, anemia, and hemophilia, affect millions of people each year in the United States, cutting across the boundaries of age, race, sex, and socioeconomic status.

So H.R. 5551, sponsored by Representatives Carter and Trahan, reauthorizes the work of this center for 5 years and helps maintain the programmatic focus of the center.

It has been 15 years since the last authorization, and the importance of the center's work continues to grow. Whether it be supporting partnerships to continue research on autism or coordinating a rapid response to Zika, the center plays a critical role in preventing birth defects and helping people with disabilities and blood disorders live healthy and productive lives.

So, Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this bill so that we can ensure vital surveillance and research continue to focus on the well-being of people with birth defects, disabilities, and blood disorders.
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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I urge support on a bipartisan basis, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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