June 14, 2012
On June 14, the Senate Appropriations Committee met to consider the FY13 Labor-Health and Human Services-Education (Labor-HHS) appropriations bill, which funds the NIH. The bill included $30.7 billion for the NIH, a small increase of $100 million over current year funding. The CLS has actively advocated for a funding level of $32 billion for the NIH in FY13.
During consideration of the bill, Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) offered an amendment that would have increased funding for the NIH by $1.3 billion, providing $32 billion for the NIH in FY13. To pay for the increase, his amendment proposed a minimal across-the-board cut to the other programs in this bill (it would have resulted in a less than 1% cut to each of the other programs). The amendment failed primarily along party lines, with every Democrat on the Committee voting against this amendment.
The CLS strongly supported the Moran amendment. While we are pleased the Committee opted to provide any kind of increase to the NIH in these tough budgetary times, the slight increase of $100 million is simply not enough to keep pace with biomedical research inflation. In addition, with the looming budget sequestration (automatic spending cuts that go into effect January 2013 and are a result of the Budget Control Act), the NIH is facing historic cuts. NIH Director Francis Collins explained to the Senate Labor-HHS appropriations subcommittee in March that sequestration is expected to cut $2.4 billion off the agency’s budget and would mean NIH would fund 2,300 fewer grants next year.
The Senate Labor-HHS appropriations bill is now expected to go for a vote before the full Senate. The Senate has not indicated if and when they plan to vote on the bill. The House Appropriations Committee is waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on the Obama Health Care bill before addressing their version of the Labor-HHS appropriations bill.