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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2006
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

NAEVR COMMENDS SENATE FOR PASSING THE SPECTER/HARKIN AMENDMENT TO ADD $7 BILLION TO ITS BUDGET RESOLUTION

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) commended the Senate for its March 16 passage of the Specter/Harkin amendment to add $7 billion to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 Senate Budget Resolution for health, education and social service programs. The amendment passed by a vote of 73-27 and, later in the day, the Senate Budget Resolution passed by a vote of 51-49. The House has yet to take action.

This increase to the President's proposed FY2007 budget, if maintained in a conference budget bill, would restore the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee's spending power to the FY2005 level, adding $1 billion to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget over FY2006. The President's budget initially proposed to freeze NIH funding at the FY2006 level of $28.6 billion.

I believe that the outpouring of support for the amendment accurately reflects the opinion of Americans that medical research is our single greatest hope for controlling healthcare costs, increasing productivity, improving quality of life and maintaining our country's global competitiveness, said NAEVR Board President Stephen Ryan, M.D., in letters of appreciation to the Senate. NAEVR members sent thousands of email letters in support of the amendment and in appreciation for its passage.

These communications also emphasized the importance of funding the National Eye Institute (NEI), for which NAEVR has requested FY2007 funding of $711 million, by citing recent advancements, such as the NEI-funded discovery of a gene strongly associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness. NAEVR has stressed that, without adequate funding in FY2007, the NEI will not be able to follow up on that dramatic discovery with the development of diagnostics for early detection and promising therapies.

The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) is a non-profit advocacy coalition comprised of 50 professional, consumer and industry organizations involved in eye and vision research. NAEVR's goal is to achieve the best vision for all Americans through advocacy and public education for eye and vision research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Eye Institute (NEI) and other federal research entities. Visit NAEVR's Web site at www.eyeresearch.org.