September 10, 2018

Labor-HHS Negotiations and Conference Committee Begins for Farm Bill

Congress is facing a strict deadline of September 30 to approve a series of bills to fund the government and potentially avoid a looming government shutdown. The House is struggling to reconcile their differences with Senate FY 2019 spending levels in the current minibus, H.R.6157, also known as the “Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019.” On September 4, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) appointed conferees: Representatives Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Kay Granger (R-TX), Tom Cole (R-OK), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Steve Womack (R-AR), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Hal Rogers (R-KY), Martha Roby (R-AL), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Pete Visclosky (D-IN), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), and Betty McCollum (D-MN). On September 6, the Senate agreed to its conference members, appointing Senators Richard Shelby (R-AL), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

The snag in negotiations is the fact that the Senate version of this minibus exceeds the House spending levels by approximately $2 billion. House Republicans are also facing potential backlash from the conservative Freedom Caucus over general spending levels as well as funding for border security enforcement efforts. The House’s current Labor-HHS-Education bill, H.R. 6470, is roughly $177 billion, matching current spending levels. House and Senate leaders are hopeful that by merging the Labor-HHS bill with the much-needed Department of Defense funding bill that they will limit “poison pill” amendments meant to derail or slow passage of the bill.

Meanwhile, the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee held its first public meeting on September 5. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-TX) said at the end of the first meeting, “While I’m pleased with progress on the farm bill – we must pick up the pace.”

House and Senate conferees have signaled that they remain far apart when it comes to reconciling their respective farm bills, this bill is intended as the vehicle for NABR’s regulatory relief amendment championed by Rep. David Rouzer (NC-D). The Senate Agriculture Committee’s ranking member, Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), told the press that House Agriculture Chairman Conaway offered "significant compromise" but that it did not go far enough. The conference committee is rapidly running out of time to craft a compromise bill before the existing funding for many programs ends on September 30.

Update on University of Missouri Open Records Lawsuit

As readers may remember, the Animal Rescue, Media & Education’s Beagle Freedom Project (BFP)—now known as Rescue + Freedom Project (R+FP)—is suing the University of Missouri for over $82,000 in charges they incurred for the researching and copying of public records. On Friday, Circuit Court Judge Jeff Harris refused to dismiss the case and ruled that the case, which originated in 2016, will finally go to trial. Daniel Kolde, the attorney representing BFP/R+FP, said that, “The Missouri Sunshine Law provides for open records and the bill was so high that it became prohibitive.”

Judge Harris wrote in his docket entry for this case, “In addition, in denying summary judgment, the court notes that the Open Records Act shall be ‘liberally construed’ in favor of openness unless otherwise provided by law.” This ruling could have an impact on how open records laws are treated in others states.

USDA Rolls Out Online Submission for Annual Reports

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be offering a new online submission process for the annual report. The online annual reporting is expected to go live on October 15, 2018. Postcards will be sent to each research facility to advise them about the online authentication process, but you can view and download an electronic copy of the postcard here:

Research facility personnel will need to complete an e-authentication in order to file the annual report electronically. Once complete, the online access will be approved by USDA in 24-48 hours. Hard copies will still be mailed to every research facility should you have a technological issue or prefer to complete the annual report in the traditional manner.

You can read more about the new process here:

California Cosmetics Bill Sees Eleventh Hour Changes to Shrink its Scope, Secure Passage

On August 31 the California Legislature passed Senate Bill 1249, sending the bill to Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. If signed, this would make California the first state in the country to outlaw the sale of any cosmetics that were developed with animals. According to the Los Angeles Times, “The ban applies to animal testing of a cosmetic or its ingredients conducted after 2019, but would allow exceptions to comply with Food and Drug Administration or foreign agency requirements.” The bill, as currently written, has no impact on animal research for scientific or medical purposes.

SB1249 gained traction in the final days of the CA legislative session once legislators amended the bill to narrow its scope. Initially, the legislation would have banned cosmetics with components not derived directly from cosmetic testing, but also from medical animal research. For example, if medical research on the carcinogenic properties of a component was done with animals, the final cosmetic product would have been banned.

You can read more about the bill here:

Senate Commerce Committee Unanimously Advances OSTP Nominee

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation advanced the nomination of Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier for Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OTSP) on Wednesday during their executive session. The committee voted unanimously to advance Droegemeier, who is expected to face a full Senate vote later this month.

Droegemeier was Vice President for Research at the University of Oklahoma-Norman from 2009 until August of 2018. He also served on the National Science Board under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Droegemeier is currently Secretary of Science and Technology for the state of Oklahoma.

During his August 23 confirmation hearing, Droegemeier indicated his strong support for the U.S. research community by stating, “We need to make sure we are the strongest research center in the world.”

Rally for Medical Research This Week, September 12 and 13

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is hosting their annual Rally for Medical Research in Washington, DC on September 12 and 13 to call on Congress to make funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) a national priority. The event is also an opportunity for individuals and organizations to showcase why they support medical research and how it positively impacts lives every day. You can read more about the event at the Rally for Medical Research’s Facebook page or web site. Can’t make it to Washington next week but still want to help? Please print an “I Rally For...” sign, fill it out, and post in on social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with the hashtags #IRallyFor and #RallyMedRes. If using Twitter, remember to tag NABR (@NABRorg) and our sister organization the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR)(@researchsaves), as well.

Nominations Needed for ILAR Canine Research Assessment at VA

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s (NASEM) Institute for Laboratory Animal Research (ILAR) has been contracted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct a consensus studyentitled, “Assessment of the Care and Use of Dogs in Research Funded by or Conducted at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.”

Per ILAR, “The study will evaluate whether dogs are, or will continue to be, necessary for any type of research directly related to the mission of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It will also identify ethical standards and practices supporting the care, use, and welfare of dogs used in research. The study will also evaluate whether current practices at the VA conform to those identified during the course of this study and make recommendations for changes, should those be deemed necessary.”

As part of this consensus study, ILAR is seeking nominees for this study. It is critically important for research experts to participate after the recent animal rights campaign against canine research at the VA. Please take a moment to nominate someone here:

ILAR Roundtable on Gene Editing in Marmosets Slated for October 22-23

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s (NASEM) Institute for Laboratory Animal Research (ILAR) will be hosting a two-day roundtable on October 22 and 23 entitled, “Care, Use and Welfare of Marmosets as Animal Models for Gene Editing-based Biomedical Research.” The roundtable will be held at the Keck Center of the National Academies located at 500 5th Street, NW, Room 100, Washington, DC 20001. A draft agenda can be viewed here:

Up for discussion at this roundtable are the possibilities and challenges of replacing traditional nonhuman primate (NHP) models with marmoset models for genetic engineering research, particularly in CRISPR/Cas9 and assisted reproductive technologies. You can register for this roundtable here:

PETA Asks HHS to Require Psych Evaluations for Animal Researchers

In a post from their website on September 6, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) suggested a link between biomedical research for medical purposes and the psychopathic behavior of animal torture. PETA further called on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to require a psychiatric evaluation for any individuals who apply for federal funding for biomedical research with animal models.

Taking it a step further, PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo said, “Just as the Catholic Church became a place of refuge for pedophiles, the experimentation world has protected—and even lauded and rewarded—dangerous individuals who also engaged in violence outside the laboratory.”

ALF/ELF Extremist Alludes Law Enforcement for 12 Years, Finally Arrested in Oregon

Joseph Dibee was arrested on August 10, 2018 on charges of conspiracy to commit arson relating to activities he engaged in with both the extremist Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF) between 1996 and 2001. ALF posted details of the case and arrest on their website:

Dibee was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice 12 years ago but may have been hiding in Cuba, where he was arrested. Dibee and others caused an estimated $45 million in damages to horse facilities, timber companies, and a Canadian ski resort. A co-conspirator, Jacob Ferguson, volunteered to become an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and helped authorities identify others working with Dibee.

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