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Lamar S.
Republican TX 21

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  • Low-Dose Radiation Research Act of 2015

    by Representative Lamar Smith

    Posted on 2015-01-07

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    SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 35) to increase the understanding of the health effects of low doses of ionizing radiation.

    The Clerk read the title of the bill.

    The text of the bill is as follows: H.R. 35 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 ``Low-Dose Radiation Research Act of 2015''.


    (a) In General.--The Director of the Department of Energy Office of Science shall carry out a research program on low dose radiation. The purpose of the program is to enhance the scientific understanding of and reduce uncertainties associated with the effects of exposure to low dose radiation in order to inform improved risk management methods.

    (b) Study.--Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Director shall enter into an agreement with the National Academies to conduct a study assessing the current status and development of a long-term strategy for low dose radiation research. Such study shall be completed not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act. The study shall be conducted in coordination with Federal agencies that perform ionizing radiation effects research and shall leverage the most current studies in this field. Such study shall-- (1) identify current scientific challenges for understanding the long-term effects of ionizing radiation; (2) assess the status of current low dose radiation research in the United States and internationally; (3) formulate overall scientific goals for the future of low-dose radiation research in the United States; (4) recommend a long-term strategic and prioritized research agenda to address scientific research goals for overcoming the identified scientific challenges in coordination with other research efforts; (5) define the essential components of a research program that would address this research agenda within the universities and the National Laboratories; and (6) assess the cost-benefit effectiveness of such a program.

    (c) Research Plan.--Not later than 90 days after the completion of the study performed under subsection (b) the Secretary of Energy shall deliver to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate a 5-year research plan that responds to the study's findings and recommendations and identifies and prioritizes research needs.

    (d) Definition.--In this section, the term ``low dose radiation'' means a radiation dose of less than 100 millisieverts.

    (e) Rule of Construction.--Nothing in this Act shall be construed to subject any research carried out by the Director under the research program under this Act to any limitations described in section 977(e) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 16317(e)).

    (f) Funding.--No additional funds are authorized to be appropriated under this section. This Act shall be carried out using funds otherwise appropriated by law.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Smith) and the gentlewoman from Oregon (Ms. Bonamici) each will control 20 minutes.

    [[Page H83]] The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas.

    General Leave Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and to include extraneous material on H.R. 35, the bill now under consideration.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Texas? There was no objection.

    Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    Mr. Speaker, H.R. 35, the Low-Dose Radiation Research Act of 2015, will increase our understanding of low-dose radiation. This research is critical for physicians and decisionmakers to more accurately assess potential health risks in this area.

    I want to thank my friend, Mr. Hultgren, for introducing this legislation along with Mr. Lipinski of Illinois. A virtually identical bill passed the House by a voice vote this past November in the previous Congress.

    Many Americans are exposed to a broad range of low doses of ionizing radiation. These range from cosmic background radiation to medically- based procedures which include x rays and CT scans. However, our current approach of radiation safety relies on an outmoded assumption that because high doses of radiation are harmful, it necessarily follows that much lower radiation doses are also harmful.

    This assumption is not based on a reliable scientific foundation, prevents patients from making informed decisions about diagnostic exams, and can lead to overly restrictive regulations.

    The Department of Energy's Low Dose Radiation Research Program within the Office of Science focuses on the health effects of ionizing radiation and helps to resolve the uncertainties in this area that currently exist. Unfortunately, this program has not been a priority at DOE over recent years and has seen systematic de-emphasis. H.R. 35 ensures the continuance and enhancement of this important research program.

    This legislation also directs the National Academies to formulate a long-term strategy to resolve uncertainties surrounding whether and to what extent low-dose radiation may pose health risks to humans. The bill stipulates that the academies must consider the most up-to-date studies in this field of research.

    {time} 1400 Finally, the bill requires the Department of Energy to develop a 5- year research plan that responds to the Academies' recommendations. I again thank the gentlemen from Illinois, Representatives Hultgren and Lipinski, for their leadership on this issue. I also want to commend Congressmen Sensenbrenner, Posey, Bucshon, and Cramer for joining me in cosponsoring this legislation.

    I urge my colleagues to support the bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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