Congress opened 2018 with just over two weeks to finalize fiscal year 2018 (FY18) appropriations before the Continuing Resolution (CR) approved in December reached its January 19 expiration date. Budget negotiations were hindered by disagreements on immigration and other issues, leading to the first government shutdown since 2013. Although Congress was able to agree on the fourth CR of FY18, these stopgap measures and the threat of shutdown continue to hobble scientific and medical progress. On a positive note, the current CR, set to expire on February 8, did include a two-year suspension of the medical device tax retroactive to January 1.
Absent from the latest CR is a deal to increase the caps for defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending. Though we are cautiously optimistic that a deal to raise the caps is close, we are taking nothing for granted. With partners from across the science community, we relaunched our #RaiseTheCaps campaign by running print and digital ads in several inside-the-beltway outlets and in targeted areas across the country.
On January 19, the president extended, through April 23, the declaration establishing the opioid epidemic as a public health emergency. We sent a letter to the president and congressional leadership urging them to commit greater resources, including investment to fill key research gaps, so our nation can achieve progress more quickly against this deadly public health threat.
On January 24, the Senate voted to confirm Alex Azar as the next secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. The new Secretary will likely face pressure to address drug pricing. Research!America will continue to monitor these developments closely and support efforts that address bad actors without jeopardizing life and cost-saving medical innovation.
A series of reports this month highlighted the global implications of treating R&D investment as an afterthought. The U.S. fell out of the top ten on the Bloomberg Innovation Index list of “innovative countries,” fell behind China for the first time in the production of scientific publications, and, according to the National Science Board, will fall behind China in federal science R&D investment within the next two years. As tense budget talks continue, and with the president’s budget set to be released in mid-February, we are making the case that our nation’s global R&D leadership is more than a rank, it’s a strategic imperative for continued prosperity, security, and medical progress.