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House Appropriations Committee Approves FY2016 LHHS Funding Bill with $1.1 Billion NIH Increase

Legislative Update
June 25, 2015

On June 24, the House Appropriations Committee approved by a vote of 30-21 along party lines the $153 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) appropriations bill, which had been marked up on June 17 by the House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee. The bill is $3.7 billion below the FY2015 level and $14.6 billion below the Presidentís budget request.

The bill funds the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at $31.2 billion, an increase of $1.1 billion, or 3.6 percent, over FY 2015 and $100 million over the Presidentís budget request. The NEI would be funded at a level of $698.1 million, an increase of $13.9 million, or 2 percent, over its FY2015 appropriated level of $684.2 million and $21.3 M, or 3.1 percent, over its FY2015 operating net.

The billís Report Language directs the NEI to create a challenge program to advance the speed of basic research to cure retinal disease by creating a forum for the NEI Director to survey the field of basic retina research discoveries to provide rewards for research not otherwise funded through NEI or other NIH-supported competitive awards. The Committee expects an update and timeline in the NEIís FY2017 budget request to describe how the program will be advertised, funding allocated, and criteria to evaluate submissions for possible challenge awards to further incentive non-NIH supported mechanisms. In Report Language associated with the Office of the Director, the Committee continues to encourage support for research activities to prevent and correct the health-related issues of Usher Syndrome. The Committee requests an update in NIHís FY2017 budget request on the planned and ongoing activities related to this syndrome, addressing the funding level and manner in which the various Institutes and Centers coordinate on common goals and objectives.

As at the June 17 Subcommittee markup, Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) stated that she could not support the bill-due to funding cuts to certain programs and the policy riders-and urged her colleagues from both sides of the aisle to develop a bipartisan agreement that would preclude funding cuts, as was done by Congress in late 2013 (the Murray-Ryan agreement) that funded Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015. Her concerns were echoed in statements by the Subcommitteeís Democratic members.