Last week the U.S. Senate appropriations committee approved the labor, health and human services appropriations bill, which sets the funding level for the National Institutes of Health in fiscal 2013. The NIH received an increase of $100 million over the FY12 level, bringing the FY13 budget to $30.72 billion.
While $30.72 billion for NIH is an increase over the flat funding requested by President Obama, it is still far below the $32 billion request that ASBMB, along with many other health and research organizations, brought to the Hill. Included in the $100 million increase is an additional $30 million for the Cures Acceleration Network, bringing its budget up to $40 million for FY13.
Several amendments were considered with the LHHS appropriations bill, and two were related to NIH funding. U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., offered an amendment to increase funding for NIH to $32 billion by imposing a 0.77 percent across-the-board cut to all other programs in the bill. However, Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, opposed the amendment, noting that the $100 million increase for NIH was above Obama’s requested budget for the agency and that, as an appropriator, he (Harkin) did not feel that across-the-board cuts were a good way to make budget decisions. The amendment failed by a vote of 12-18.
A second amendment was offered by U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who proposed to add an additional $50 million in funding for the Institutional Development Award program by shifting funds from within the total NIH budget. The amendment passed by a vote of 18-12.
Sources say that the Senate is unlikely to bring any appropriations bills to a full chamber vote before the November election. While the U.S. House of Representatives has yet to introduce its version of the LHHS appropriations bill, it is possible the subcommittee will hold its mark-up as early as next week.