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Medical Technology Caucus

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BILBRAY. I thank the gentleman.

Mr. Speaker, the gentleman is leading on not just an issue of jobs. This is an issue of jobs and lives. I think that is one thing we overlook so often. I am glad to hear about the hearing in Indianapolis because we had a hearing in San Diego. I'm sure that you guys are glad that you didn't have to come to the hearing in San Diego because we were in La Jolla overlooking the beach and the surf at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. But maybe some day you will be able to break away and come to one of our hearings down in San Diego.

But, Mr. Speaker, we're talking about an issue that is not discussed enough. I guess one of the issues that I'm really excited about on this one is it's a bipartisan effort. If there was one thing I want everyone to know about Washington, D.C.--Democrats, Republicans or Independents--the biggest problem with this town isn't that Washington tries new things or that Washington makes mistakes; but when Washington tries new things and makes mistakes, they're not willing to go back and correct it and straighten it out. They ignore it.

In fact, a lot of times they think the only problem is just throw more money or taxes at it or more regulation, and somehow it will make it better. I think this is one of those items where Democrats and Republicans should get together and say, Look, this was rushed through, really wasn't looked into in depth and needs to be corrected and straightened out.

That is what this bill, both the gentleman's bill

and my bill say: We need a step back period, a cooling off time, and let's look at this and straighten this out. And the first thing we have to do is take this huge tax off the back of not just the producers but the American consumer. We're talking about a tax of $20 billion on an industry that can ill afford this kind of burden, especially at this time. We're talking in California alone 112,000 jobs, and something that all of us will say later if we lose these jobs, Oh, my God, how could we have done this. More importantly, we are talking about those lives of the people who depend on not just those devices that are out there today, but those that will be out there in the future.

Is there anyone here that can assure themselves that their children or grandchildren or granddaughter or grandson or even their mother or father won't need to have medical devices somewhere down the line, not just to improve the quality of life, but to ensure life extension? Or the fact of just being able to survive certain medical crises? Those are all questions that we need to ask ourselves individually. But as a Nation, we need to ask ourselves: Was this the right step for us to take at this time or at any time? And if it wasn't, we have to be brave enough to do what Washington doesn't do enough, and that is go back and correct the mistakes and move on in a much better and much more secure form, something that can be substantiated.

Let me be very blunt, as someone who has a major medical device industry in my community, that there are ways we can correct these things. Anna Eshoo and I, back in the 1990s, actually did tort reform for medical devices. There was a kind of bipartisan support of it saying put politics aside and put people first, and when it comes down to it, you do not provide health care to the public by taxing it out of the country. You're not going to make those kinds of opportunities available to either the people who need the jobs or those who need the medical breakthrough.

I want to say again that I look forward to working on this, and I look forward to working on a bipartisan effort with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, things like FDA reform, which is going to be another essential step that we have to do to make sure that we keep this vibrant industry here, or we will all rue the day, Democrat and Republican, if we allow it to leave the country and the jobs and medical breakthroughs go with them.

Also, the huge resources that we have for more research and development to be brought back into this country by repatriating American money that is overseas, that is being kept overseas, but because of punitive actions of the Federal Government here in Washington, D.C., $2 trillion that could come back to help do research and development, to save lives, to develop the next generation of medical devices, to be able to create that opportunity in economics and in medical breakthroughs, that's the kind of thing that we need to see Democrats and Republicans work together on.

I look forward to building on the cooperation we see in this bill, and work on it in other bills related to public health and the economic opportunities of creating jobs in America with American jobs on American soil.

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