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Senate Appropriations Committee Approves 302(b) Subcommittee Allocations

Legislative Update
June 1, 2015

Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its Fiscal Year (FY) 302(b) Subcommittee allocations, which are the amounts that each Subcommittee has to then draft their respective appropriations bill for the programs under their jurisdiction.

For the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the allocation of $153.2 billion is $138 million higher than the allocation that the House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee received earlier this year, but approximately $3.6 billion less than that in FY2015.

The allocations were approved by a straight party line vote of 16-14, indicating dissatisfaction by the Democratic members of the Committee with the funding amounts that each Subcommittee will receive. Committee Vice Chair Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) offered an alternative set of allocations, based on the overall budget request submitted by President Obama, which would have increased the discretionary spending levels by $74 billion over the budget caps which were established in FY2011 and the current FY2016 Budget Resolutions. The proposal was rejected by a party line vote. Senator Mikulski stated that she will vote against starting floor debate on any appropriations bill which adheres to the sequester-level spending limits, and that President Obama will veto any bill which is based on these allocations.

On April 3, NAEVR submitted written testimony to the Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee urging that NIH be funded in FY2016 at a level of at least $32 billion and that it be waived from sequester cuts and Budget Control Act caps. In its testimony, NAEVR also requested National Eye Institute (NEI) funding at $730 million.