Research!America is grateful for the emphasis the President placed in his preliminary fiscal year 2022 budget proposal on equipping the United States with critical strength in the science, technology, and public health arenas. These assets will position our nation to conquer health and other societal threats, and empower innovations that support economic growth and competitiveness.
The President’s proposal would grow the NIH budget significantly, accelerating the medical progress congressional champions such as Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) have resolutely shepherded over the last several Congresses. The stark truth that heart disease and cancer took more lives in 2020 than COVID-19 underscores the significance of fighting harder, both to preempt global health emergencies and disarm longstanding, deadly, and debilitating health threats.
The President’s budget request for NIH includes funding to establish a new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). We do not believe it is in the nation’s interest to channel funding away from other research priorities under the Institutes’ purview, particularly when fewer than one quarter of current research grant proposals are funded. We maintain that a 10% increase in NIH’s base budget for FY22 is necessary to equip our nation to confront and defeat longstanding, emerging, and as yet unknown health threats. It is essential that those dollars are focused on NIH’s core mission.
At the same time, we appreciate and support the goals underlying ARPA-H. Gaps between public and private sector financing create gaps in medical progress, often to the detriment of solutions for high burden, high-cost health threats. We can save lives and money by homing in and addressing funding gaps and other obstacles impeding critical progress, and we look forward to working with the Administration and Congress to explore innovative proposals like ARPA-H.
We are pleased to see what the President has stated is the largest budget authority increase for CDC in nearly 20 years. A robust increase is long overdue for CDC in order to have the capability to meet the public health threats facing our nation. The President also included a significant increase for NSF, bolstering the agency’s ability to further drive scientific discovery. While the President’s preliminary budget does not address funding for FDA or AHRQ, we stand ready to work with the Administration and Congress on ensuring strong funding levels for these crucial agencies in FY22.
We believe that in addition to a robust annual funding increase, NIH and other research agencies should be allocated at least $25 billion in supplemental funding to reverse pandemic-perpetuated research setbacks our nation simply cannot afford. COVID-19 did not compromise progress indiscriminately; it disproportionately derailed early career researchers, women, and racial and ethnic minorities. Our federal research agencies need supplemental resources to make up for lost time and repair the damage COVID-19 has done to the diversity and inclusivity of the R&D workforce.
Pandemics like COVID-19 are not an anomaly. They are ever-present threats. Cancer, mental illness, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases are also ever-present, and it is time for our nation to up our game dramatically against them. We hope Congress will draw from the bold approach the President is proposing and unleash American ingenuity to relegate these threats to history.