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President Issues FY2017 Budget Options to Reduce NonDefense Discretionary Spending, Including a $1.2 Billion NIH Cut

Legislative Update
March 28, 2017

According to numerous press outlets, this week the Trump Administration, through the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), sent to Congress a proposal to cut $18 billion in NonDefense Discretionary spending in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 to offset the Administration’s defense/border security supplemental. This proposal’s options contain a $1.232 billion cut to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including $50 million achieved by eliminating spending on new Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program grants and $1.182 billion in reduced research grants. The proposal would also cut the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by $314 million.

This proposal arrived shortly after the March 16 Trump Administration FY2018 Budget Blueprint, which proposed to cut NIH funding by $5.8 billion to $25.9 billion and reorganize NIH’s Institutes and Centers to help focus resources on the highest priority research and training activities.

Congress has yet to finalize FY2017 appropriations, and government agencies are operating on a Continuing Resolution (CR) that expires on April 28, 2017. As with the FY2018 Trump-proposed budget framework, several Congressional leaders who are currently working to finalize FY2017 appropriations reiterated that “The President proposes, the Congress disposes,” meaning that the Congress will have the final say on FY2017 appropriations. Commenters included:

  • Cong. Tom Cole (R-OK), who chairs the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee, said that $18 billion in cuts would be problematic so late in the fiscal year. “Well, you know that’s fine but it’s a little late in the process. We’ve closed out bills.” He added, “No entering administration should be negotiating for the year it’s in, because they don’t have the people there to do it. They just got an OMB Director, they don’t have a lot of their staff, they don’t have their people in places in the Cabinet agencies in order to make intelligent decisions and even recommendations.”

    [Click here to read a summary of Chairman Cole’s March 29 House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee hearing with Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D.]

  • Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who chairs the Senate Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee and serves on the Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee, commented that, “I think that’s a little late,” adding that, “You know, Presidents do things like that and …the responsibility for appropriations is with the Congress and we respect the President. He suggested some things, and of course we’ll look at them, but we’ll write the budget.”

NAEVR issued a statement in which it continues to support a $2 billion increase in FY2017 NIH funding to $34.1 billion, as proposed by the Senate Appropriations Committee, to maintain sustained and predictable funding. The Senate Appropriation Committee’s $2 billion NIH funding would result in National Eye Institute (NEI) funding of $741 million, or a $33 million increase over FY2016, to fund research to save sight and restore vision.