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Congressional Conferees Approve an Omnibus Spending Package that Includes FY2010 Funding Increases for NIH, NEI

Legislative Update
December 9, 2009

Late last night, Congressional negotiators approved a Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 omnibus spending package (H.R. 3288), comprised of six remaining spending bills, including the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) appropriations bill (H.R. 3293) which funds the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Eye Institute (NEI).

The conference agreement includes $31.0 billion for NIH, a $691.8 million (2.3 percent) increase over the FY2009 omnibus, and $250 million more than the President's request. The House-approved bill had included $31.3 billion for NIH, while the Senate committee-approved bill had included $30.8 billion.

The conference bill funds NEI at $707.04 million, an 18.54 million, or 2.7 percent increase, above the FY2009 funding level of $688.5 million. The House-approved bill had a $713.1 million funding level for NEI ($24.6 million, or 3.57 percent increase) and the Senate committee-approved bill had a $700.2 million funding level ($11.7 million, or 1.7 percent increase).

House floor action on the omnibus bill is expected this week and in the Senate next week, as the Continuing Resolution (CR) that funds government programs until FY2010 spending bills are finalized expires on December 18.

Still awaiting final Congressional passage is the FY2010 Defense Appropriations bill, (H.R. 3326), which maintains the dedicated Peer Reviewed Medical Research-Vision line item and funds it at $5 million, an increase of $1 million or 25 percent over FY2009. The Senate passed its bill on October 6, although the Senate passed its bill without language regarding PRMR-Vision.

Congress plans to use the FY2010 Defense Appropriations bill as the basis of a second omnibus bill to finalize any other must-pass legislation before it adjourns. Currently, the Senate is engaged in debate on healthcare reform legislation, which Congress also intends to finalize before the recess.