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Senate Releases Report Language Regarding Its FY2015 LHHS
Spending Bill

Legislative Update
July 24, 2014

Although the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee marked up a Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 LHHS spending bill on June 10, the Senate Appropriations Committee never scheduled a session to approve it. Since the Senate’s Democratic leadership has signaled that it will not be taking up any more appropriations bills before recess begins on August 1 (with the Senate returning September 8), the Subcommittee has released the Report Language associated with the bill.

Regarding National Eye Institute (NEI) Report Language, the bill includes suggested language submitted by NAEVR (Audacious Goals), NAEVR and JDRF (diabetic retinopathy), Usher Syndrome Coalition, and the Marfans Syndrome Foundation.

Regarding the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Report Language, the bill:

  • Retains the salary cap at Executive Level II ($181,500).
  • Retains the Program Evaluation Tap at 2.5% (funds that NIH is required to pay into the Department of Health and Human Services for overall health programs). It reforms the funding formula so that in FY2015, NIH will contribute $696.3 million and will receive $808.2 million for a net gain of $111.9 million. The Report states that the reform “improves the transparency of NIH’s budget so that the enacted total is truly the amount the Committee expects to be used for biomedical research.” Republicans at the March 26 House and April 2 Senate hearings with NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D. criticized the TAP that NIH has to pay as reducing its funding for biomedical research.

As background, the Senate proposes to increase the NIH budget to $30.5 billion, a $606 million or 2 percent increase over the FY2014 funding level, which essentially restores the NIH budget to the pre-sequester FY2012 level. The bill would increase the NEI’s budget to $683.3 million, a $10 million or 1.5 percent increase over its FY2014 operational budget of $673.3 million (the President’s budget only proposed a $2 million or 0.15% NEI increase). The Senate’s funding level would still be $19 million below that of FY2012, so the NEI’s budget would still not be restored to the pre-sequester level-which NAEVR acknowledged in a statement on the bill.

The House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee is not expected to mark up a bill.

In September, Congress is expected to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government when FY2015 begins on October 1, 2014. The CR is expected to expire in mid-December, enabling Congress to either pass individual bills, an omnibus spending bill, or a full-year CR.