And the winner is…medical research? Just in time to avert a government shutdown, Congress passed a $1 trillion spending package on Friday. This bill will fund all of the government agencies through the end of the current fiscal year.
In an act of quasi-bipartisanship, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was granted $30.7 billion in funding, which is $299 million above last year’s level. In addition to this bump, however, the bill also mandated a 0.189% cut to the NIH and other Labor, HHS, Ed agencies. This cut is on top of the nominal increase that was given to the NIH. The surprising news is that the NIH was one of the big winners in the bill, while most agencies cannot even say they had the honor of being nominated. The President, the medical research community, and a cadre of staunch Congressional champions earlier this year asked that the NIH receive $32 billion in fiscal year 2012, recognizing that it is our nation’s best hope for finding cures, improving treatments, and gaining a better understanding of the complex causes of diseases that affect millions of Americans like Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and cardiovascular disease. The Alliance for Aging Research and the other research champions are disappointed in this outcome. If you believe that research is essential, let your Congressperson know that they must not let us down next year.