Lawmakers Reject Trump Proposal to Cut Medical Research Spending

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Federal spending on biomedical research would increase to $34 billion in 2017 under an agreement reached late April 30 by congressional appropriators to fund the government through September.

FDA Spending

The bill would give the Food and Drug Administration $2.8 billion in discretionary funding, which represents an increase of $39 million over the FY 2016 enacted level, according to a summary from House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.). A summary from Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.) said the amount was a $42 million increase, which a Democrat aide explained was because they included the FDA's building and facilities account, but the Republicans did not.

Total funding for the FDA, including revenue from industry-paid user fees, would be $4.67 billion, which would be $12.3 million below FY 2016. Within this total, medical product safety activities would get $10.9 million more, and funding for food safety activities would rise by $35.7 million. The bill also includes a provision that prohibits the FDA from considering or approving any proposals for using human embryos for the purpose of genetic modification.

Steven Grossman, deputy executive director of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA, told Bloomberg BNA, in addition to the $39 million increase, Congress previously appropriated $20 million in funding in the 21st Century Cures Act for fiscal year 2017. The 21st Century Cures Act (Pub. L. 114-255) is a biomedical innovation law enacted in December 2016 to spur new drugs and devices. The omnibus also includes $10 million in no-year money for FDA efforts to combat Zika and emerging threats. He said altogether these increases represent nearly a $70 million increase over the FDA's fiscal year 2016 appropriation.

“As FDA responsibilities continue to grow—and the science of food and medical products becomes ever more complex—we anticipate that FDA will need larger increases in the coming fiscal year,” Grossman said.

But Mary Woolley, president of Research!America, said in a May 1 statement, “The slight increase for FDA is not enough to ensure the agency is well-staffed to implement provisions in 21st Century Cures and speed medical progress.”

The FDA's appropriation is part of the agriculture spending agreement, not the labor-health agreement.

In response to a request for comment from the White House Office of Management and Budget, John Czwartacki, the OMB's director of communications, said in a May 1 email, “We are encouraged that the spending bill contains $1.5 billion to further secure our southern border and over $21 billion to help restore our national defense—two funding priorities that the administration has been advocating all along.” (subscription only)

Media Contacts

Suzanne Ffolkes
VP Communications

Anna Briseño
Senior Manager of Communications

If concerted, long-term investments in research are not made, America will lose an entire generation of young scientists.
Brenda Canine, PhD; McLaughlin Research Institute, Montana