Congress and the Administration have had a busy May and June. President Trump released his budget on May 23. The budget would cut $54 billion from non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending and increase defense spending by the same amount. Neither the House nor Senate has shown any willingness to follow suit: a draft House budget resolution reportedly would reduce NDD by $5 billion, $8 billion below the topline FY17 number. While the Senate has not released a budget resolution, it is likely to mirror the House resolution or be slightly more favorable to NDD.
While NIH continues to receive bipartisan support, absent another bipartisan budget deal to raise the sequestration caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA), it is virtually certain that NIH budget growth will slow considerably; CDC and AHRQ will face severe cuts; NSF will not increase and may be cut, and FDA will at best be flat funded. One positive sign: a group of moderate House Republicans recently sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan advocating for a deal that raises the FY18 budget caps. Research!America sent a letter with nearly 210 organizational signatories to congressional leaders urging them to raise the caps. Continued advocacy will be essential as federal budget battles rage on.
It appears Congress is on track to pass the FDA Reauthorization Act (FDARA), which establishes new user fee agreements, with time to spare before FDA is forced to send reduction in force (RIF) notices at the end of July. Also in FDA news, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb recently discussed bold plans to speed approval of treatments for rare diseases and increase competition in the pharmaceutical marketplace, especially for off-patent drugs with no generic counterpart.
As of this writing, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still in place. The House passed its version of replacement legislation and sent it to the Senate, but the Senate version is on hold. Both bills would eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) and repeal the medical device excise tax. Research!America continues to urge Congress to sustain the PPHF, which plays a crucial role in CDC’s ability to protect the public health.
An issue that is top of mind for many of our members is the Administration’s proposed 10% cap for indirect costs (IDC) associated with federal research grants. Research!America is participating in an informal coalition with APLU, AAU, AIRI and other stakeholders formed to coordinate advocacy efforts around this issue.