The Coalition for the Life Sciences (CLS) calls on Congress to reject President Trump’s FY18 budget proposal released today. The budget request proposes draconian and careless cuts that will devastate the scientific enterprise by slashing...

The Coalition for the Life Sciences (CLS) would like to thank Congress for its commitment to the federally funded life science enterprise.

National Institutes of Health

The CLS is pleased to see that Congress supported a $2...

Legislative Alerts

Congressional Budget Update

FY11 Budget Agreement

Congress narrowly averted shutting down the government on April 8 by finally agreeing to an FY11 budget.  At the time of the pending shutdown, a gulf of more than $50 billion in cuts separated the two parties. The Republicans showed few signs of backing down from demands for deep spending rollbacks, while Democrats opposed changes in policy that affected women’s healthcare facilities.

The final budget agreement included a 0.2% across-the-board cut for all non-defense discretionary spending. Also most program budgets, including those of the NIH and the NSF, received additional cuts beyond the 0.2%. The NIH will receive $30.7 billion in funding for FY11, down a total $260 million from the previous fiscal year. Of the funds to be cut, $210 million will be reflected in a pro rata reduction across all of NIH’s 27 institutes and centers, and the Office of the Director. The remaining $50 million will come from cutting in half the agency’s budget for buildings and facilities.

The NSF will be funded at $6.9 billion, which is $52 million below—or 0.8%—the FY10 enacted level. Programs affected by this reduction include, the Research and Related Activities Account that is cut by $42 million for a total of $5.6 billion, and the Education and Human Resources account that is cut by $10 million to $862 million.   

FY12 Budget Forecast

On the same day that Congress passed the final FY11 budget, the House of Representatives passed the budget outline for FY12. According to one projection, the livelihoods of scientists, technical workers, and other lab support will be in jeopardy under the proposed House FY12 Budget Resolution. According to the projection, the spending plan would reduce the aggregate science budgets of the Office of Science, NSF, National Institute of Science and Technology, and NASA by $2 billion, causing major damage to the U.S.'s innovation enterprise and our nation's ability sustain its global scientific leadership.[1]

Other alternative budgets have since been introduced. The President introduced a deficit reduction plan in mid-April. The details of the new plan are limited; in some areas—such as tax reforms—it mirrors the earlier FY12 budget proposal. His proposal aims to cut $4 trillion from deficits over 12 years through a combination of spending cuts and increased revenues generated by a tax code overhaul.

What is new is the suggested “debt failsafe trigger,” which would prompt across-the-board spending reductions if by 2014 the projected debt-to-GDP ratio is not stabilized and is declining toward the end of the decade. The trigger would not apply to Social Security, low-income programs, or Medicare benefits.

A third long-term budget vision is being prepared by a bipartisan "Gang of Six," three of whom are current members of the Senate Budget Committee and four of whom participated in the President's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform last fall. No timeframe has been given for the release of that plan, but it might be part of the Senate budget resolution.

The six senators—Mark Warner ( D-VA), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Michael D. Crapo (R-ID), Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND), and Tom Coburn (R-OK)—have been working to draft legislation based on the 2010 recommendations of the President’s fiscal commission to address the deficit. That means not just discretionary spending and entitlement program changes, but elimination of many tax incentives and a broader overhaul of the tax code. It is expected to be a plan that puts everything on the table—and that will draw criticism from all sides.

What You Can Do To Help

It’s going to take a vigorous defense in order to protect the NIH and NSF FY12 budgets. We will constantly have to remind Congress that the NIH and NSF serve as urgent national priorities.

The CLS, through the Congressional Liaison Committee’s grassroots network, will continue to alert you when it is an appropriate time to act. There is always a generic letter posted on the CLS Take Action site to enable you to contact your Member at any time throughout the year.

One thing that would help our cause more than any other would be if every CLC participant recruited at least one new CLC member. So ask one of your colleagues to join today by going to the CLC website and registering. It’s free to join and the CLC never shares or sells information provided to us.

With Congress’ support, the biomedical enterprise can continue to lead the way with unprecedented advances and economic prosperity.

[1] FY 11 Continuing Resolution Budget Flat Funds Scientific Research Programs, Averts Job Loss

The American Physical Society , Washington, April 13

CLS Responds to Attacks on Peer-Reviewed Science

It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again

The Coalition for the Life Sciences (CLS) and the over 60,000 biomedical scientists it represents are concerned about a recent, ideologically motivated, and ill-informed attack by the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) on peer-reviewed research grants funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). TVC attacks specific research projects dealing with behaviors contributing to sexually transmitted diseases. Research of this type has helped turn AIDS from a death sentence into a chronic disease, saved many lives in the process, and saved the American taxpayers untold millions of dollars. Committees of expert scientists review every grant application submitted to NIH and only the top 20% of applications is funded. Given the stringent NIH peer-review process, the CLS firmly believes that each grant in question is clearly connected to public health priorities.

Now-retired Congressman David Obey wisely commented during an earlier attack on NIH grants in the House of Representatives as follows: “I have served on the subcommittee that deals with NIH for a long time, and the one thing I came to understand very quickly is that the day that we politicize NIH research, the day we decide which grants are going to be approved on the basis of a 10-minute horseback debate… that is the day we will ruin science research in this country. We have no business making political judgments about those kinds of issues...We have NIH for a reason; we have peer review for a reason. I would rather trust the judgment of ten doctors sitting around a table than I would ten politicians sitting around a table when we decide how to allocate taxpayer money for those grants.”

As Congressman Obey stated, ideological judgments based on a superficial understanding of the content and purpose of these grants is not appropriate.

Congressman Charlie Dent Becomes the Newest Co-Chair of the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus

The Coalition for the Life Sciences, on behalf of the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus, is pleased to announce Congressman Charlie Dent (R-PA) as the newest co-chair of the Caucus. He joins Reps. Rush Holt (D-NJ), Brian Bilbray (R-CA), and Jackie Speier (D-CA) as leaders of the 78-member bipartisan Caucus.

Congressman Dent represents Pennsylvania’s 15th District, which includes all or parts of Lehigh, Northampton, Montgomery, and Berks counties. The 15th District is home to a vibrant life sciences industry that includes renowned research universities, premier national healthcare providers, and innovative biotech firms.

As a Member of Congress, Congressman Dent has been an advocate on health issues. In 2008, legislation he and colleague Rep. Mike Doyle (PA-14) introduced to update the Veteran's Health Administration's outdated HIV/AIDS testing policy was signed into law. He has been instrumental in providing federal funding for melanoma research and is a staunch supporter of medical research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Congressman Dent has worked closely with the MPS (Mucopolysaccharidoses) community to draw awareness to this devastating genetic lysosomal storage disease, caused by the body's inability to produce specific enzymes, and focus the research that is being conducted. He has also been active in advancing legislation aimed at the prevention and elimination of chronic viral hepatitis and colorectal cancer.

Without question, Congressman Dent is and will continue to be a tremendous voice for biomedical research in Congress and through the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus.

The Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus was established in 1989 to broaden the support and knowledge of basic and clinical biomedical research issues throughout the Congress in a bipartisan manner. The CBRC is a bipartisan, bicameral Caucus and takes no dues from its members.