Yesterday, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved the 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services funding bill that would fund the National Institute of Health at $31.2 billion. This marks the first time in four years that the LHHS funding bill has passed out of committee.
As detailed last week, the bill would provide a $1.1 billion increase to the NIH over fiscal 2015 levels and $100 million above President Obama’s FY16 budget request. This bill would increase the National Cancer Institute budget by $150 million, the National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute budget by $47 million and the National Institute of General Medical Science budget by $70 million. In contrast, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases see a $122 million reduction in their budget. Overall, the bill provides $153 billion in funding for programs that support public health, education and job training. This would represent a reduction from the FY15 level of $3.7 billion.
House Republicans seek to prioritize spending, and display new willingness to invest in programs such as NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. House Appropriations Chairman, Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Kentucky, stated “the funding in this bill is targeted to programs that are proven to produce results. In addition, great efforts were made to ensure none of the funding in the bill is spent wastefully or inappropriately.”
Ranking Member of the LHHS subcommittee, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn, said “the bottom line is that this bill is woefully underfunded.” She added “it will mean a continued deterioration in services that provide lifelines to millions of people.” Rep. DeLauro, the recipient of ASBMB’s 2015 Howard K. Schachman Award for Public Service, went on to say “nobody should be surprised at this outcome. It is the tragic end result of yet another inadequate allocation. The only durable solution is to end, once and for all, the culture of austerity, the sequester cuts, and the spending caps.” This sentiment was echoed yesterday by the White House as well.
Having traversed the committee process, the next step for this bill is a vote by the full House of Representatives. This vote has not yet been scheduled, but is targeted to take place before Congress leaves on its annual August recess.