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Massive FY2015 “CROmnibus” Spending Bill Includes NIH/NEI Funding Increases, Vision Trauma Research Funded at $10 M

Legislative Update
December 10, 2014

December 16 Update: The President signed the FY2015 “CROmnibus” bill today.

December 13 Update: The Senate passed the FY2015 “CROmnibus” bill late Saturday evening by a vote of 56-40. The bill now heads to the President to sign.

December 11 Update: The House passed the FY2015 “CROmnibus” bill late Thursday evening by a vote of 219-206. The bill now heads to the Senate.

Late December 9, Congress filed the $1.1 Trillion (T) Fiscal Year (FY)2015 “CROmnibus” spending bill (H.R. 83)to fund the government, as the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires at midnight on December 11. Eleven of twelve spending bills included are funded through September 30, 2015, except for the bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security, which is funded by a CR through February 27, 2015. The dual nature of the bill has resulted in the label CROmnibus.

The bill’s NIH Report Language and accompanying funding charts propose the following:

  • NIH is funded at a program level of $30.08 Billion (B), a $149.7 Million (M) increase.
  • NEI is funded at $684.19 M, a $2.1 M or 0.31% increase. Note that was the percent increase across the Board unless an Institute had special funding (e.g., NINDS, NIMH, NIA for BRAIN Initiative).
  • The NEI increase is $9 M greater than the President’s budget proposal – Congress was responsive in increasing NEI’s funding, especially in the Senate’s bill.
  • NEI’s Operational Net may be different than the final FY2015 appropriation, as was the case with FY2013 and FY2014 funding, due to NEI returning funds to NIH Central as a result of the dissolution of the Ocular Implications of AIDS clinical trials (a transfer which was not shown in NEI’s FY2015 Congressional Justification) and Secretary Transfers.
The NIH Report Language covers 37 myriad issues, plus a “catch-all” clause for reports on various issues:
  • Page 39 explains the revised means by which NIH makes the 2.5 percent Program Evaluation Transfer (TAP) to the Department of Health and Human Services for broad health programs, which was the subject of Republican member concern at the FY2015 House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee hearings.
  • On pages 54-56, in a laundry list of multiple disease and program areas, the Committee requests updates on Usher Research and NEI’s Audacious Goals Initiative Regenerating Neurons and Neural Connections in the Eye and Visual System.
  • On page 43 (New and Early Stage Investigators) and page 54 (Young Investigators), the Committee directs NIH to report on and make efforts to reduce the average age of an investigator receiving their first R01 and that NIH review grant success rates.
Peer Reviewed Vision Research-the Department of Defense (DOD) bill budget line that funds the Vision Trauma Research Program (VTRP)-is funded at $10 M for the third year.