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House Appropriations Committee Approves FY2007 LHHS Funding Bill

Legislative Update
June 13, 2006

On June 13, the House Appropriations Committee approved a Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) appropriations bill by a voice vote. The LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee had previously approved the bill in a June 7 markup session. House floor action, which is expected the week of June 19, will likely be controversial as the bill contains an amendment to increase the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour over the next two years. Seven Republicans crossed party lines to support this amendment.

Despite the addition of $4.1 billion to the LHHS bill above the Presidentís FY2007 budget request (and about $842 million above comparable FY2006), the bill does not increase funding for the NIH or individual Institutes above the Presidentís budget request of $28.258 billion, which would flat-fund NIH at the FY2006 level. As a result, the bill retains the proposed decrease in funding for the National Eye Institute (NEI) of 0.8 percent, or $5.3 million, to an FY2007 level of $661.3 million.

Ranking Minority Member David Obey (D-WI) offered an amendment reflecting $6.3 billion in additional spending for health and education programs, including a $750 million increase for the NIH. This amendment was voted down along party lines. After the vote, LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Ralph Regula (R-OH) reminded members that NIH was currently managing more than 35,000 grants on a variety of research topics.

The only other NIH-related amendment offered was that by John Doolittle (R-CA), which would include Report Language directing the NIH to conduct further research on Shaken Baby Syndrome. This amendment passed unanimously.

The session was not without controversy. In initial comments made on behalf of the Democratic minority, Cong. Obey expressed concern about the bill, primarily the allocation under which Chairman Regula and the LHHS Subcommittee had to operate. After stating that the bill "systematically disinvests in programs to close the opportunity gap," he specifically cited concern about the NIH, noting that its purchasing power will be reduced by 4 percent from FY2006 (due to the biomedical inflation rate) and it will have experienced an overall 11 percent reduction in purchasing power since the budget-doubling ended in FY2003.

NAEVR will continue to work with its medical research advocacy colleagues to impress upon the House, as well as the Senate - which has not yet issued its Subcommittee allocations or begun markup on appropriations bills - about the importance of adequately funding the NIH. Click here to read NAEVRís comprehensive comments about FY2007 NIH/NEI funding.