FY19 appropriations

Dear Research Advocate: The Congress is poised to pass, and the President appears ready to sign, a final FY19 spending package, averting another shutdown. Of note, the summary of the bill text indicates a $269 million (9%) increase for FDA, bringing its total FY19 budget to $3.08 billion, and a $307.6 million (4%) increase for NSF, bringing its total budget to $8.1 billion. Research!America joined with other science community leaders and Nobel Laureates earlier this week on a letter to members of Congress and the President, calling attention to the considerable negative effects of the recent partial shutdown as well as the need to avoid another costly impasse. There had been rumors that the...
Dear Research Advocate: During his State of the Union address, when President Trump laid out the goal of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S., it brought to mind the critical role research has played in making eradication even plausible. Years and years of research and development in both the public and private sectors have yielded once-unimaginable diagnostics, treatments, prevention, strategies and public health surveillance tools. Relegating this scourge to the history books – in the U.S. and also worldwide – is a worthy goal indeed. The president highlighted our nation’s legacy of making “giant leaps of science and discovery.” As we noted in our statement , we can’t assume progress...
Dear Research Advocate, The partial government shutdown continues, now at day 27. There are too many furloughed workers struggling to make ends meet, our nation’s parks and monuments are being ruined, research support by NSF has been put on hold, and drug approvals have slowed at FDA. For a run-down on the broadscale impact, see this USA Today article quoting ASBMB’s Ben Corb, and for a closer look at the toll the shutdown is taking on research, check out this article discussing the impact at the University of Wisconsin, emblematic of so many campuses nationwide. As a temporary patch, agency leaders have called back thousands of employees to work without pay. At the FDA, Commissioner Scott...
Dear Research Advocate: The government is now in its sixth day of a partial shutdown that has left agencies including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Science Foundation (NSF) without the necessary resources to conduct their critical, multi-faceted work. Negotiations between the Congress and the White House reportedly remain at a stalemate. Last year, when the House and Senate voted to end a weeklong shutdown, Senate Majority Leader McConnell said he hoped everyone could remember that "brinksmanship and hostage-taking do not work. They make bipartisan progress harder – not easier – to achieve." Let’s face it: no one is heeding that lesson now. The path that will truly...
Dear Research Advocate: Today, our nation and world lost a research leader whose vision, commitment and compassion have catalyzed progress against a host of insidious health threats. Dr. Stephen Katz , the director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, died suddenly and unexpectedly this morning. We have been blessed by you and your service, and will miss you, Steve. The Senate passed a continuing resolution (CR) last night to flat-fund seven fiscal year 2019 appropriations bills at 2018 levels until February 8, 2019. (Recall that the federal fiscal year began on October 1, so this is not a minor delay.) It was fully expected that the House would pass...
Dear Research Advocate: Earlier this week I had the privilege of meeting with and addressing faculty and students at Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences and at Rutgers University. During both trips, it was truly energizing to witness the enthusiasm, and sense of accountability, more and more scientists (on every rung of the career ladder) have for influencing the direction of federal research funding and policy. I hope my presentations reinforced and bolstered those terrific instincts...at least that was the goal! As always, I learned easily as much as I shared, including being introduced to an innovative science communication course Rutgers has shaped for doctoral students...
Dear Research Advocate, Yesterday, the Senate passed a sweeping opioid package ( H.R. 6 ), previously passed by the House, and sent it to the President for his signature. It includes intensified research into new pain management therapies that factor importantly into a broad array of opioid response strategies. This can’t come too soon: according to a recent study from AHRQ, there were nearly 125,000 opioid-related hospitalizations among older Americans in 2015; more Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016 than the number of American lives lost -- 58,200 -- in the entirety of the Vietnam War. The opioid legislation is an excellent example of much needed bipartisanship; the FY19 Labor-H/...
Dear Research Advocate: In welcome news, Congress is making progress on FY19 appropriations. The Senate Appropriations Committee has completed work on all 12 bills and Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) has said that the full Senate may consider a package containing the Defense and Labor-HHS bills during the week of July 23rd. We can’t count our chickens before they hatch, but this is good news indeed, considering the Senate has not passed the LHHS bill before fiscal year-end since 2007. Yesterday, the full House Appropriations Committee passed their version of the Labor-HHS spending bill, which includes $38.3 billion for NIH, an additional $1.25 billion over the FY18 level, an additional $427M...
Dear Research Advocate: Out this week: new survey data from the Pew Research Center reaffirming that Americans are strongly supportive of federal investments in medical, engineering and basic science research, with overall agreement at the 80% level that these investments ‘pay off.’ Of concern, however, is that voters who identify as strongly conservative are significantly more likely to say that “private investment will ensure that enough scientific progress is made, even without government investment.” All of us in the stakeholder community have more work to do to convey that when the government supports research, all parties -- private sector, government and the public -- stand to...
Dear Research Advocate: A special thanks to Grace Stuntz and Nick Bath of the Senate HELP Committee for meeting with Research!America alliance members on Tuesday to discuss the committee’s 2018 research-related priorities, among which opioid response legislation is front and center. The HELP Committee has passed a bipartisan bill and is working on determining likely amendments in anticipation of a floor vote; the House Energy & Commerce Committee hopes to approve a package and secure House passage by Memorial Day. The opioid bills in both Houses reflect the diversity of research disciplines (and associated funding) needed to overcome complex public health threats like this one; for...

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Without continued support for health research, many of the most promising young scientists, their ideas and a myriad of potentially life-changing scientific breakthroughs will vanish into oblivion.
Paul Marinec, PhD; University of California San Francisco