It turns out, they like us, or so they say. Biomedical researchers should take note that for the second year in a row, U.S. Senate appropriators have declared funding the National Institutes of Health a...
If you were paying attention to the appropriations process the last couple weeks, you probably thought things were looking up for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Senate seems to be committed to restoring NIH’s funding to levels in place before sequestration. On Thursday, July 12, the Senate appropriations committee marked up a Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations bill (Labor-HHS) that promised $30.9 billion for NIH for FY14, an increase in funding of $1.6 billion for the agency from FY13.
The Senate is able to allot these funds to NIH because they have proposed a budget that restores the budget cuts mandated in the Budget Control Act (BCA). Senate Democrats have also made clear that domestic spending is their priority in these spending negotiations. After a caucus meeting with NIH Director Francis Collins, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), referencing the Senate’s decision to address funding for domestic programs before defense programs, said, “We are not going to be gamed by having the military programs funded at a much higher levels than Head Start or NIH.”
Unfortunately, the enthusiasm from the Senate will be short-lived once the House of Representatives has its say. Unlike the Senate, the House plans to maintain the budget cuts imposed by BCA in its version of the appropriations bill. This means that the Labor-HHS subcommittee has a much smaller pot to divvy up for its programs than its Senatorial counterpart. The House is providing the Labor-HHS bill with about 26% less funding than the Senate, so it is highly unlikely NIH will see the level of support it has from the Senate when its funding is considered by the House. However, as of a few days ago, Republican representatives are suggesting that cuts will be made to other programs under the jurisdiction of the Labor-HSS bill, like student grants for education and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, rather than to NIH funding. The House had planned to mark-up the legislation on Thursday, July 24, but postponed the mark-up with no indication of when it would be rescheduled.
Coming up on Congress’ August recess, the big question is, will the two Houses be able to reconcile their very different funding numbers when the appropriations bill is negotiated in the fall? These disagreements suggest otherwise. Most likely, NIH’s funding will stay the same as it’s been the past few years. Unfortunately, at these current levels of funding, Director Collins cautioned, "We're putting an entire generation of U.S. scientists at risk and our own nation at risk as well.”
For immediate release
David Moore (Ad Hoc Group), 202-828-0559
Lynn Marquis (Coalition for Life Sciences), 301-347-9309
Jennifer Zeitzer (FASEB), 202-320-1422
Anna Briseno (Research!America), 571-482-2710
Washington, D.C., March 1, 2013 – The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, Coalition for Life Sciences (CLS), FASEB, and Research!America, which represent millions of patients, scientists, and health care providers, are deeply concerned about the impact on the nation’s health resulting from across-the-board cuts to medical research funding implemented today under the statutorily-mandated sequestration.
The inability of the Administration and Congress to agree on a responsible alternative to sequestration means that funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be cut by 5.1 percent this year alone. Since this cut occurs five months into the fiscal year, its impact will be closer to a 9 percent reduction.
Sequestration represents only the latest threat to the viability of this nation’s medical research enterprise. NIH has lost one-fifth of its purchasing power over the past decade. The spending caps imposed by the Budget Control Act and the sequestration mandated under the same bill will further erode our nation’s ability to support a medical research enterprise that is capable of taking full advantage of existing and emerging scientific opportunities. Sequestration will diminish the hope that medical research provides to patients with serious diseases, not only in this country but around the world.
Our country still has the most robust medical research capacity in the world, but that capacity simply cannot weather repeated blows like this one. We urge you not to jeopardize our competitive edge in medical research and ultimately weaken our nation’s ability to compete in an increasingly innovation-based global marketplace.
Perhaps one of the greatest concerns is the impact these continued cuts will have on the next generation of scientists, who will see training funds slashed and the possibility of sustaining a career in research diminished.
If we are to address the health challenges of an aging and increasingly diverse population, and remain a vibrant force in the global economy, America needs more investment in medical research, not less. We respectfully urge Congress and the Administration to work together on a solution that preserves the nation's investment in medical research and protects the health of the American people.
The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research is a coalition of more than 300 patient and voluntary health groups, medical and scientific societies, academic and research organizations, and industry that support enhancing the federal investment in the biomedical, behavioral, and population-based research conducted and supported by the NIH.
The Coalition for the Life Sciences is an alliance of six non-profit professional organizations working together to foster public policies that advance basic biological research and its applications in medicine and other fields.
FASEB is composed of 26 societies with more than 100,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States.
Research!America is a public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, Research!America is supported by member organizations representing 125 million Americans.
Released: February 22, 2013
Contact: Lynn Marquis
The Coalition for the Life Sciences, on behalf of the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus, is pleased to announce Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH) as the newest co-chair of the Caucus. He joins Reps. Rush Holt (D-NJ), Charlie Dent (R-PA), and Jackie Speier (D-CA) as leaders of the 78-member bipartisan Caucus.
“It is an honor to serve as a co-chair to the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus,” Stivers said. “Ohio University, The Ohio State University, and Battelle are important to the communities I represent because they mean biomedical jobs for the people who live there. Both my district and America depend on research and innovation to move us forward and that is why this is such an important issue.”
Congressman Steve Stivers represents the 15th District in Ohio. He grew up in Ripley, moved to Columbus to attend The Ohio State University and never left, except for deployments with the Ohio Army National Guard. Central Ohio is home to a vibrant life sciences industry that includes renowned research universities, premier national healthcare providers, and innovative biotech firms.
Congressman Stivers in his first term in office made an incredible contribution to the research enterprise. In Dec. 2012, as Congress was debating the fiscal cliff, Stivers joined with his democratic colleague Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and led a bipartisan effort to protect the National Institutes of Health in the context of ongoing budget negotiations. A total of 60 members of Congress signed this letter to the House and Senate leadership, which stated, “As Congress debates the issues surrounding deficit reduction, we urge you to support a thoughtful, balanced approach, taking into account the critical importance of the National Institutes of Health.”
Without question, Congressman Stivers 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.