President's Budget May Call for Steep NIH Cuts

Friday, February 2, 2018

President Donald Trump could slash medical research spending as much as 30 percent in his next budget proposal, a research funding advocate told Bloomberg Law.

If true, that deep of a cut to the National Institutes of Health's current $34 billion annual funding would be unprecedented and wildly unpopular among lawmakers in both parties, Ellie Dehoney, vice president of policy and advocacy for Research!America, said in a Feb. 1 interview. The potential cut would be part of the president's fiscal year 2019 budget plan the White House will submit to Congress on Feb. 12.

“I can't reveal sources, but we've heard from a pretty reliable one that we could see a 30 percent cut in NIH, 30 percent cut in NSF,” Dehoney said, referring to the National Science Foundation.

But Congress, which ultimately holds the purse strings on NIH funding, would likely reject a cut of any kind to biomedical research dollars. Appropriators on both sides of the aisle have passed $2 billion increases to annual NIH funding in fiscal 2016 and 2017 and are poised to do that again for fiscal 2018. And the chairmen of both the House and the Senate appropriations subcommittees who oversee the NIH's budget have made clear that protecting biomedical research dollars is a top priority.

Dehoney noted that China's latest five-year plan includes a goal for that nation to grow into “a world powerhouse of scientific and technological innovation by 2050.”

“Congress is going to respond and not be complacent about our science agencies,” she said.

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Without research, there is no hope.
The Honorable Paul G. Rogers