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Congress Introduces the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, to Finalize FY2016 Funding that Includes Significant NIH and NEI Funding Increases, DOD/Vision Research Program Funding

Legislative Update
December 16, 2015

Today, Congress released the text of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016—which serves as the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 omnibus spending bill—after needing two short-term Continuing Resolutions (CRs) to allow additional time to complete work on the full-year funding legislation. The current short-term CR, which expires on December 22, gives Congress time to finalize the legislation and send it to the White House for President Obama to sign.

The FY2016 omnibus bill, H.R. 2029, funds the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at $32.08 billion, which is a $2 billion or 6.6 percent increase over FY2015 funding and the largest dollar and percent increase since 2003. The bill also funds the National Eye Institute (NEI) at $715.9 million, a 4.6 percent increase over its FY2015 appropriation of $684.2 million and 5.7 percent over its operational net of $676.8 million. This funding level exceeds that proposed by the President and the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriation Subcommittees of the House and Senate.

The bill also funds the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Vision Research Program (VRP) at $10 million, the fourth year in a row that the VRP has been funded at that level. The VRP was created by Congress in FY2009 through NAEVR advocacy, and vision researchers have been awarded 71 grants totaling $56 million though FY2014.

NAEVR has issued a statement commending Congress for the increased NIH/NEI funding in the bill as a first step in the rebuilding of the NIH and NEI budgets.

With respect to NIH, the bill funds major initiatives as follows:

The bill maintains the Extramural Salary Cap at Executive Level II ($183,300 in FY2015). The medical research community urged Congress to keep the cap at ELII, since the House LHHS Appropriation Subcommittee’s bill proposed to reduce it to EL III ($168,700 in FY2015).