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Senate Bill Proposes $100 M NIH Increase; NEI Still Cut By AIDS Funding Transfer

Legislative Update
June 15, 2012

On June 14, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) spending bill (S. 3295) that was marked up by the LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee on May 12. The bill would increase National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding by $100 million to $30.73 billion, as opposed to the level-funding proposed in the Presidentís budget. As with the Presidentís proposal, the Senate bill cuts National Eye Institute (NEI) funding by $8.9 million (or 1.2 percent cut), reflecting a dissolution of the Cytomegalovirus (CMS) Retinitis clinical trials at NEI, but then adds back in $2 million for a net funding level of $695.1 million (0.9 percent cut). The Committeeís Report Language (S. Rept. 112-176) recognizes that there were increases and decreases among the Institutes and Centers (I/Cs) due to a variety of program transfers, including those associated with a redistribution of funding for AIDS research (such as at the NEI). The Report Language regarding the value of the NEI reflected that submitted by NAEVR earlier this session.

The Senate also rejects the Presidentís proposal to increase the program evaluation transfer from 2.5 percent in the FY2012 level to 3.2 percent in FY2013. These transfers, which are used to fund various programs within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), would have decreased NIHís budget by $200 million in the Presidentís proposal. Additive of the finding cut (see above), the Presidentís budget proposal would have reduced NEI funding by 1.9 percent over FY2012, whereas the Senate bill would reduce the cut to 0.9 percent.

The Senate bill also maintains the extramural researcher salary cap at Executive Level II ($179,700), the same level as that in the FY2012 spending bill which reduced it from EL I ($199,700), or ten percent. NAEVR has joined with the advocacy community in urging Congress to restore the level back to EL I.

During the markup, the Committee considered an amendment offered by Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) to increase NIHís funding level to $32 billion by applying an across-the-board cut to all other programs in the bill. The amendment failed 12-18.

The bill also includes new provisions intended to prevent excessive spending on conferences and other administrative expenses by DHHS employees. The provisions require quarterly reports on the costs and contracting procedures involved in any conference that costs more than $20,000, and limit the amount of federal funding that may be spent on any single international conference and the number of federal employees who may attend it.

The House has not yet marked up a bill.