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House Issues Draft FY2012 LHHS Appropriations Bill That Increases NIH Funding by $1 Billion, as Proposed in the Presidentís Budget

Legislative Update
September 30, 2011

On September 29, the House Appropriations Committee released a draft of its Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) funding bill. The Committeeís summary and accompanying draft bill announced National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding at $31.7 billion, a $1 billion or 3.3 percent increase over FY2011. The bill would also fund the National Eye Institute (NEI) at $719.06 million, an increase of $18.3 million or 2.6 percent over FY2011. The House bill was released without a markup by the LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee.

The House bill, which would fund at least 9,150 new and competing research project grants (an increase of about 450 from the FY2011 projection), reflects NIH/NEI funding levels proposed in the Presidentís FY2012 budget proposal. [Note: Since the Presidentís budget issued before FY2011 funding was finalized, it compares FY2012 funding to FY2010].

The House draft issued a week after the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its FY 2012 LHHS spending bill, which funds NIH at $30.5 billion, a decrease of $190 million or 0.6 percent below the FY2011 level. The NEI would be funded at $692.09 million, a decrease of $7.9 million or a 1.13 percent below the FY2011 level. The House bill is likely a marker in negotiations with the Senate.

The House and Senate bills also differ widely regarding support for NIH structural changes and funding of new programs. The House bill remains silent on the implementation of the NIHís proposed National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and maintains funding of the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), while the Senate bill establishes NCATS and abolishes the NCRR, moving many of its programs to NCATS and other Institutes and Centers (I/Cs). The House bill also approves $2 million for the Cures Acceleration Network (CAN) Advisory Board to be established to develop an implementation plan for CAN, while the Senate bill would establish CAN within NCATS and fund it at $20 million.

The House and Senate bills differ widely in many other aspects-the House billís total appropriation is $1.2 billion higher than that of the Senate, and it also precludes funding for agencies to implement programs associated with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act until the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of this legislation.

Click here for a comparison chart of the top line details of the House and Senate bills with respect to NIH/NEI funding. See below for text details of the differences.

Senate:

  • NIH: Cut of $190 million, or 0.6% decrease from FY2011 (which had a 1% cut).
  • I/Cs and NEI: Most, including NEI, cut 1.13%, except those absorbing programs from the elimination of the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). NEIís cut would be $7.9 million, in addition to the $6.2 million cut in FY2011.
  • NCATS: Implements the new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), but does not fund it beyond that which reflects current programs transferred into it. Despite approving NCATS, the Senate criticized NIH for inadequate due diligence to support its funding and cautioned NIH to do a better job in the future, referring specifically to the anticipated proposal to abolish the separate Drug and Alcohol Institutes and create a new Addiction Institute.
  • CAN: Funds the Cures Acceleration Network (CAN) within NCATS at $20 million. CAN was authorized at $500 million in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but had not been previously funded. The Presidentís Budget requested $100 million in CAN funding.
  • Common Fund: Funds at $537.8 million, a decrease of $5.2 million.
House:
  • NIH: Increase of $1 billion, or 3.3% increase from FY2011, same as Presidentís Budget.
  • I/Cs and NEI: Most, including NEI, increased by 2.6 %, same as Presidentís Budget proposal. For NEI, that would mean an $18.3 million increase over FY2011.
  • NCATS: Silent on NCATS. This is not surprising, since House LHHS Subcommittee Chair Denny Rehberg (R-MT) has criticized NIH for inadequate due diligence to support this new initiative. As a result, the NCRR is maintained and fully funded for FY2012 and all programs remain within.
  • CAN: Up to $2 million of the Directorís Discretionary Fund of $10 million may be used to fund the CAN Advisory Board to develop an implementation plan.
  • Common Fund: Funds at $556.9 million, an increase of $13.9 million.
  • Number of Grants: Supports the Presidentís budget proposal request to fund at least 9,150 new and competing research project grants, an increase of about 450 from the fiscal year 2011 projection. (Senate bill silent on this issue).
  • Limits on Director Transfers: Allows the NIH Director to transfer up to 1% of funds from I/Cs but requires House/Senate Appropriations Committee approval before any amount greater than that is transferred. This is likely a means to prevent the NIH Director from tapping I/Cs to fund NCATS or CAN.