Senate LHHS Subcommittee Proposes FY2015 NIH, NEI Increases
June 11, 2014
On June 10, the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee marked up a Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 spending bill that increases the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget to $30.5 billion, a $606 million or 2 percent increase over the FY2014 funding level, which essentially restores the NIH budget to the pre-sequester FY2012 level. The bill would increase the National Eye Institute (NEI)’s budget to $683.3 million, a $10 million or 1.5 percent increase over its FY2014 operation budget of $673.3 million (the President’s budget only proposed a $2 million or 0.15% NEI increase). The Senate’s funding level would still be $19 million below that of FY2012, so the NEI’s budget would still not be restored to the pre-sequester level-which NAEVR has acknowledged in a statement on the bill.
Center: Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), with Committee Ranking Member Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), left, and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chair of the LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee, right
Although the Senate Appropriations Committee was scheduled to meet June 12 to consider the bill, it has cancelled its markup session indefinitely, which many attribute to leadership concern about potential amendments to the bill associated with implementation of the Affordable Care Act. As a result, the Subcommittee’s Report Language on the bill has not yet been released, leaving only the top-line funding charts as a resource. This language is important, since it will elucidate the budget lines associated with the Evaluation TAP, which is the annual 2.5 percent contribution that NIH must make to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for cross-cutting health programs. The TAP was the subject of discussion at the March 26 and April 2 hearings of the House and Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittees, respectively, since it draws away funds that NIH could use for biomedical research. Changes to NIH’s FY2015 TAP contribution could affect the NIH and NEI net operational budgets, especially as compared to FY2014.
In her statement, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) commented on the bill’s full restoration of the sequester cut and its increased funding for the Brain Research through Advancing Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative ($100 million by NIH in FY2015 as compared to $40 million in FY2014):
“This bill before us today fully replaces devastating NIH sequester cuts and includes $100 million for the BRAIN Initiative. This is a revolutionary initiative that will help scientists map the brain. We must make it a priority to ensure that NIH has stable and reliable funding to conduct research that will help cure, treat, and prevent debilitating and costly conditions such as Alzheimer’s, autism, and cancer. By replacing the NIH sequester cuts, this bill gets us back on track and I will continue to fight for increases by NIH in the coming years.”
Chairwoman Mikulski also thanked retiring Subcommittee Chair Tom Harkin (D-IA) for his tireless dedication to LHHS programs.