Late yesterday, the House Republicans released new spending targets for FY14 appropriations bills. Under the GOP numbers, the Labor-HHS-ED bill will face a nearly 20 percent reduction on top of the cuts already made in the March 1st sequestration order. These programs would be capped at $121.8 billion — or about $28 billion below the best available estimates for post-sequestration appropriations. This represents $42 billion, or 26 percent, below what was enacted in FY10. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) appears to be scaling back spending for these programs, as well as for transportation, housing, environmental, and natural resources programs, in order to provide significant increases for a few of the 12 annual bills this summer. For example, Pentagon spending would rise to $512.5 billion, a roughly 6 percent increase over the reduced levels allowed under sequestration. We expect similar increases for Military-VA and Homeland Security.
Meanwhile, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), whose state is home to the NIH, pledged to work with the top senators on the Labor-HHS-ED subcommittee to ensure they get an appropriate allocation to fund these programs. The Democrat said she is “worried about the sequester’s effect on the people who work at NIH as well as extramural programs such as those run by universities.” Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), the top Republican on the full committee, said he would work with Mikulski to try to increase funding for NIH in the face of the sequester. Other Senators also pledged their support for NIH funding, including Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) – top ranking members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. But despite the bipartisan support, there are still concerns that GOP priorities would prevent Congress from giving NIH the necessary funding resources.
The Office of Federal Relations continues to remind the Washington state delegation about the substantial fiscal impact NIH grant funding has on our economy. Please contact us if you have information that will help inform Members of Congress about the importance of NIH funding.