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Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY2014 LHHS Appropriations Bill With an NIH Increase

Legislative Update
July 11, 2013

Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) appropriations bill (S.1284) on a 16-14 vote along party lines. The bill includes a $307 million increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is a 1 percent increase over the pre-sequester FY2013 enacted level of $30.6 billion to a net total of $30.95 billion. By comparison, the President’s budget proposes a funding level of $31 billion, or a $471 million increase.

Regarding the National Eye Institute (NEI), the Senate bill increases its funding to $701.4 million, which is a $100,000 or 0.01 percent increase over the pre-sequester enacted level of $701.3 million. NAEVR and members of the vision research community had urged the Senate appropriators to improve on the President’s budget request, which would have cut NEI funding by $2.1 million (from the FY2012 level) to $699 million. NAEVR has issued a statement thanking Senate appropriators for avoiding an NEI cut, as well as for proposing to restore funding lost to sequester cuts in FY2013.

Among the bill’s highlights is $40 million in funding for the new Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, which was announced by the President on April 2 prior to the April 10 release of his FY2014 budget proposal in which he also included $40 million in funding for this initiative.

Although LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) did not vote in favor of the bill, based on his concern about its spending limits and funding for implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), he did offer an amendment to increase NIH funding by not funding the healthcare exchanges required by the ACA. That amendment failed on a 16-14 vote, again on party lines.

The LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee developed its bill with an allocation of $164.33 billion. The Senate based its allocations for all twelve appropriations bills on the $1.058 trillion discretionary spending cap mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and adopted in the Senate-passed FY2014 budget resolution. This is significantly higher than the $967 billion cap passed by the House, which has approved an LHHS allocation of $121.8 billion but not yet marked up an LHHS bill. The Senate Committee’s summary of its LHHS bill states the following about the difference between the two chambers’ allocations:

Because the House of Representatives has yet to mark up its LHHS bill, it is impossible to provide a direct comparison. However, the House allocation for LHHS is $121.8 billion, or 25.9 percent lower than the Senate level. Applying an across-the-board cut of 25.9 percent to the Senate mark, the House bill would produce the following results…..NIH funding would be slashed by roughly $8 billion below the Senate level. To put that figure in perspective, $8 billion is more than the entire amount that NIH spends on research on cancer and cardiovascular diseases combined.

NAEVR will post an updated version of this story when the dollar amounts for the individual Institutes are released.