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Senators Casey and Burr Lead Letter in Support of NIH Funding

Legislative Update
June 13, 2011

Senators Robert Casey (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) led a June 10 letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Subcommittee leadership in support of funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 LHHS appropriations bill. The letter, which was signed by a bipartisan group of 41 Senators, highlights NIH as “our best hope” for treating or curing debilitating disease. It also states that investments in NIH have “yielded an unprecedented number of scientific advances that have improved health outcomes and contributed significantly to the nation’s economic growth,” and that it is “essential to continue support for medical research."

Although the Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee held a May 11 hearing with NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D. Ph.D., the Senate currently does not have a timetable for markup of an LHHS bill. The House LHHS Subcommittee has not yet held a hearing with Dr. Collins, and its markup of an LHHS funding bill currently scheduled for late July is looking less likely to occur.

The President’s FY 2012 budget proposal included a $745 million, or 2.4% increase (compared to FY2010), in funding for the NIH, from $31 billion to $31.7 billion. The National Eye Institute (NEI) would receive an increase of $12.4 million, or 1.8 percent increase (as compared to FY2010), to a level of $719.06 million from $706.7 million. The NEI has posted its Congressional Justification for its funding level.

In the FY2011 funding cycle, Congress finalized appropriations on April 15, 2011 (well into 6 months of the fiscal year) in an eighth and final Continuing Resolution (CR) which reduced NIH funding by $322 million, or one percent (as compared to FY2010), and NEI funding by $6.2 million to $700.8 million, also a one percent decrease as compared to FY2010.