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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 27, 2006
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

NAEVR Urges House Budget Committee Chair Nussle to Adopt Specter/Harkin Amendment in budget Resolution

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) delivered letters to House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle (R-IA) and all committee members urging adoption of the Specter/Harkin amendment at the planned March 29 markup of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 House Budget Resolution. Cong. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) was expected to offer up the amendment, which would add $7 billion to fund health, education and social service programs. On March 16, the Senate approved the Specter/Harkin amendment by a vote of 73-27 and subsequently approved the Senate Budget Resolution 51-49.

In the letter, NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky stated that, “This increase will be important to maintain the momentum of discovery at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is necessary to balance the 3.8 percent biomedical inflation rate.” Jorkasky specifically cited NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni's heralding as an NIH breakthrough the National Eye Institute (NEI)-funded discovery of a gene strongly associated with age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness. “Without an increase in FY2007 funding, the NEI's ability to follow up on this discovery with research into diagnostics for early detection and promising therapeutic strategies will be jeopardized,” stated Jorkasky.

This increase to the President's proposed FY2007 budget, if included in the House Budget Resolution and 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 NIH budget over FY2006. The President's FY2007 budget proposes to freeze NIH funding at the FY2006 level of $28.6 billion and to cut NEI funding by 0.8 percent, or $5.3 million, to a level of $661.4 million. NAEVR is urging Congress to fund the NEI at $711 million in FY2007 to meet the nation's vision research commitment.

The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) is a non-profit advocacy coalition comprised of more than 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.