The 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 6) passed the House with a strong bipartisan vote of 344-77 on July 10. Research!America worked closely with Chairman Frank Upton (R-MI), Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO), and alliance members to fight for the embattled mandatory funding in the bill. The house-passed measure includes $8.75 billion in mandatory funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and $550 million for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Senate’s companion “Innovation Initiative” is expected to pick up steam in July. While it will an uphill battle, Reps. Upton and DeGette still hope a final bill can be signed by the President before the end of the fiscal year.
On the appropriations front, even though the House and Senate “Labor-H” allocation for fiscal year 2016 is $3.6 billion lower than in FY 15, the House bill would increase NIH funding by $1.1 billion. The Senate bill would go even farther, increasing NIH funding by $2 billion. The House Labor-H bill would also provide increased funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but that is where the good news ends. The House bill would eliminate the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ).The Senate bill would cut funding for AHRQ by over thirty percent and reduce funding for CDC. We do not expect further action on the Labor-H bill in the House, and Senate Democrats have pledged to block all appropriations bills until the Majority agrees to negotiate relief from the stringent discretionary funding caps imposed as part of the 2011 Budget Control Act.
The House Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill (H.R. 2578) would increase National Science Foundation (NSF) funding by just 0.7 percent, $357 million less than the President’s budget, and impose directorate-levels cuts that tie the agency’s hands and jeopardize social, behavioral and economic research. This legislation, which passed the House in June on a party line vote, tracks closely to the NSF provisions in the House-passed America COMPETES Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1806).
The Senate CJS Appropriations bill, which passed the sub- and full committee by large margins, keeps NSF funding flat at FY 15 levels, but does not include the large cuts to social, behavioral and economic research seen in the House bill. In terms of Senate action on “COMPETES,” Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI) are accepting comments from the public as they begin to craft language for the provisions related to NSF.
As of this writing, neither chamber has taken appropriations action on FDA funding, reportedly because of controversy surrounding other programs under the jurisdiction of the Agriculture Appropriations subcommittees.