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NAEVR Meets with Key Senate Appropriators as the Senate Appropriations Committee Prepares to Approve FY2007 Allocations

Legislative Update
June 21, 2006

On June 22, the Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to meet to approve Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 302(b) allocations for the eleven appropriations bills, including that for the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS). This action paves the way for markup and Senate floor action on these spending bills. Senate markup of the LHHS bill is scheduled for July 20.

Dr. Stephen Ryan with Senators Boxer and Harkin
Dr. Stephen Ryan, center, with Senators Harkin and Boxer
On the eve of the release of the allocations, NAEVR Board President Dr. Stephen Ryan and Executive Director James Jorkasky made a series of Capitol Hill visits to the offices of key Senate appropriators, urging increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Eye Institute (NEI). These visits included the offices of Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Minority Member Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Subcommittee Members Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH), Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). NAEVR also met with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), a long-time medical research advocate.

In addition to thanking all of these Senators for their strong support for the NIH, NAEVR also expressed its concerns about NIH reauthorization. This was especially important in discussions with Sens. Harkin and DeWine, who serve on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, with Senate jurisdiction over NIH authorization. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Joe Barton (R-TX) announced in a June 2 meeting with NAEVR that a revised draft of reauthorization legislation would issue by late June.

Dr. Stephen Ryan with Greg Polley
Dr. Stephen Ryan with Sen. Shelby staffer Greg Polley
Dr. Stephen Ryan with Senator Tom Harkin
Dr. Stephen Ryan with Senator Tom Harkin

In a meeting with Greg Polley of Sen. Shelby’s staff, NAEVR acknowledged the Senator’s commitment to ensure adequate NIH funding, which he stated at the May 19 Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee hearing. NAEVR was represented at this hearing by Dr. Peter McDonnell (Wilmer Eye Institute/Johns Hopkins University), who identified missed opportunities in NEI-funded research due to the President’s FY2007 proposed budget.

Dr. Stephen Ryan with David Lewis
Dr. Stephen Ryan with Sen. Hutchison staffer David Lewis
In the offices of Sen. Hutchison, who also serves on the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, NAEVR met with David Lewis, a sight-impaired Iraq war veteran who has urged the Senator to champion NAEVR’s request for eye and vision research remaining eligible for FY2007 funding through the Department of Defense’s Congressionally-directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP). NAEVR is working with its network members in Texas to communicate the vision community’s support for Sen. Hutchison’s leadership. Vision research initially became eligible for DOD funding in FY2006, and the House’s FY2007 Military Quality of Life appropriations bill, passed on May 19, already includes vision research’s continued eligibility.

NAEVR also met with key Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the NIH reauthorization issue.