U.S. House Approves NCBI Reauthorization

Overwhelming support given for bill authorizing up to $23 million per year

Issued: April 20, 2021

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved reauthorization of the National Cord Blood Inventory (NCBI) at up to $23 million per year through Fiscal Year 2026. The bipartisan vote was an overwhelming 415 to 2.

United States Capitol

The NCBI provides funding for the collection and storage of public cord blood units of high quality and genetic diversity. It was created by the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005, and has been reauthorized at five-year intervals.  The most recent annual appropriations law for the NCBI provided $18.2 million.

The renewal is part of a larger Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act that also provides up to $30 million for reauthorization of the C.W. Bill Young Transplant Program. That program supports patients who need a potentially life-saving bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant, and is a major source of funding for the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) and the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) and its Be The Match registry.

Floor Discussion

The bipartisan reauthorization bill, identified as The TRANSPLANT Act (H.R. 941), was introduced by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and deliberated on the floor of the House on April 14.

Two members Congress who spoke in favor of the bill, Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Chris Smith (R-NJ), highlighted the work of CBA President Joanne Kurtzberg. A transcript of the floor discussion is available here.

The two members who voted against the bill were Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO). According to a Newsweek article, Rep. Greene’s spokesperson Nick Dyer said, “Nothing in the bill prevents the funding of aborted fetal tissue by taxpayers. It opens the door for the NIH to use this bill to research the remains of babies who are murdered in the womb.”

The bill, of course, is not related in any way to fetal tissue or embryonic stem cell research.

Rep. Boebert offered her objection to the bill in a statement to Cable News Network: “This bill added hundreds of millions of dollars to the national debt, while not receiving a CBO score or going through the committee process," a reference to scoring done by the Congressional Budget Office that estimates for lawmakers how much legislation will cost.

CBA is working to address the misunderstandings by the two congressional offices.

Senate Bill

An identical companion bill in the U.S. Senate (S. 288) has been introduced by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Richard Burr (R-NC), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Tim Scott (R-SC). Sen. Tammy Duckworth (R-IL) is a co-sponsor of the proposed legislation.

Once the bill passes the Senate, it will be sent to the White House to be signed into law by the President.

Federal Funding

The congressional appropriations committees fund NCBI through an annual appropriations process.  The Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations law includes $18.2 million for the NCBI program, an increase of $1 million over the FY 2020 level. 

CBA is working to fund NCBI at its full authorization level of $23 million in Fiscal Year 2022.