There is nothing in the 2016 election results that should indicate that the National Institutes of Health will lose support in the 115thCongress.
I have always said that no one ever wants to be on “Team Cancer.” No one is ok with the devastating impact cancers and diseases like it have on people. Funding the biomedical research community, specifically the NIH, has been – and I imagine will continue to be under President-Elect Donald Trump – a bipartisan area of policy.
We’ve dealt with a Republican-controlled Congress for 2 years now. Last year, we saw a $2 billion increase to the NIH. This year, we’ve had proposed increases in the range of $1-2 billion. We’ve seen a flawed but still massive pro-research bill with billions of dollars in increases to the NIH and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
However, the 115th Congress will bring its own challenges. With fiscal policies like the Budget Control Act in place during the 114th Congress, we found solace Budget Control Act that the White House was a strong supporter of our issues, and acted as a powerful stopgap and resisted massive spending cuts. We will likely lose that important support in the next Congress. I envision some more aggressive attempts to cut spending. The question will be how do you reconcile supporting investments in research with cutting discretionary spending? Challenging, no doubt.
Who will lead the NIH? The National Science Foundation? No clue. Early names being floated about for Secretary of Health and Human Services (under which NIH is operated) include Florida Governor Rick Scott and Dr. Ben Carson.
As for immigration policy, that is an open question. The Trump campaign included some rather harsh discussions on immigration and illegal immigrants. The impact of immigration on the scientific community is undeniable: America has long been a bright beacon for the world’s best and brightest. The question will be whether America’s doors will remain opened for scientists and science trainees and if foreign-born scientists will feel welcome to the U.S. This issue will be significant and one we should monitor closely.
There are lots of unknowns. But we’ll soon know more and manage to move ahead together.