Support NIH Funding in the Economic Stimulus Bill!

Support NIH Funding in the Economic Stimulus Bill!

As the 111th Congress takes session, all eyes are focused on an economic stimulus bill expected to contain more than $700 billion in funding. Reps. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) and Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) are circulating a so-called "Dear Colleague" letter, asking their fellow Congressmen to support the inclusion of additional funding for NIH in the stimulus package. The deadline for Congressmen to endorse the letter before it is released is 2 PM on this Wednesday, January 14th, and the full text of the letter is below.

Call your House Representative today to suggest that they sign onto this letter, and support funding for biomedical research in the eventual stimulus package!

Full Text of the Dear Colleague Letter:
Dear colleague,

We invite you to join us in sending a letter to congressional leadership and to President-elect Obama supporting funding for biomedical research in the stimulus package. Not only will this funding lead to new progress in improving human health, it will create and sustain quality, high-paying jobs for Americans leading to long-term economic recovery.

In fact, each grant approved by the NIH goes to create or sustain seven jobs with salaries above $50,000, according to estimates. High-paying and high-skilled jobs will be necessary if we are to achieve long-term economic recovery.

Over the years, investment in the NIH has also led to numerous medical discoveries improving the health of Americans and saving lives. Funding to the NIH goes to prevent diseases as well as treat common and rare illnesses. NIH funding eases suffering and improves lives.

We believe the economic stimulus package under discussion gives us a historic opportunity to support biomedical research through the NIH. This funding will create and sustain high-paying jobs while improving the health and lives of Americans. Please contact Spencer Young or Gary Kline by 2 p.m. Wednesday January 14 to sign this letter.


Susan A. Davis, Member of Congress
Brian P. Bilbray, Member of Congress

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Called my Congressman's LA, left a message.

Thanks for the information. I was hoping that some of the stimulus package might go to something a little more long lasting than some roads and bridges. Hoorah for Davis and Bilbray for bringing it up.
OK, was able to talk to him today.

Good news. The draft of the stimulus legislation released by Pelosi today includes the following language:

National Institutes of Health Biomedical Research: $2 billion, including $1.5 billion for expanding good jobs in biomedical research to study diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, and heart disease - NIH is currently able to fund less than 20% of approved applications – and $500 million to implement the repair and improvement strategic plan developed by the NIH for its campuses.

University Research Facilities: $1.5 billion for NIH to renovate university research facilities and help them compete for biomedical research grants. The National Science Foundation estimates a maintenance backlog of $3.9 billion in biological science research space. Funds are awarded competitively.
Stimulus bill passed the House today.

Regarding the portion of the bill that would go to NIH, Nature magazine is reporting:

"...Most of the stimulus spending would extend over two years, although the bill includes language indicating that money for peer-reviewed grants must be spent within 120 days, which could limit the money to grant proposals already in the pipeline. Report language accompanying the bill indicates that additional funds will be provided to the NIH in fiscal 2010"

Overall, I think this is good news. I wish it was more, though. A lot more.

MD research represented about 0.19% of the $29 billion NIH spent on research last year. 0.19% of the 1.5B in the stimulus is another $2.9 million for MD - if the money is evenly spread around, which, of course, I hope they don't do.

But, for the sake of arguement, say it's $2.9 million in new funds. $2.9 million for research on an incurable childhood disease, arguably within striking distance of a treatment.

The bill includes $50 million for the National Endowment of the Arts. 17 times more than MD got.
It includes $150 million for the Smithsonian's facilities. 51 times more than MD got.
It includes $650 million for the analog to digital television box program. 224 times more than MD got.
It includes $1 billion for community oriented policing services. 344 times more than MD got.
It includes $6.2 billion for a weatherization assistance program. 2137 times more than MD got.

These are just examples I found on a quick glance of the bill. There was $200 million in the original bill to "fortify the turf of the national mall", but that got removed last night. I could go on. And on. And on...

This illustrates the need for constant pressure on our elected officials to adequately fund the NIH. I view it as a key role of government - especially for rare diseases. If you do too, you need to let them know. Frequently.
Interesting development in the Senate.

The Senate passed an amendment (introduced by Senator Harkins - IA) to the stimulus bill that would add $6.5B for biomedical research at NIH. That would represent more than a 20% increase in funding.

Long way to go on this - they're adding and deleting things from the stimulus bill at a dizzying pace, AND, even if it remained in the Senate version, the overall Bill still has to pass the Senate, then go to a conference committee, then be passed by the House. It may not even still be in the Senate version - the online resources lag the activity in the Congress by a few days...

But - I think it's still very encouraging that the Senate appears to be of a mindset that NIH needs more funding.

Here's a news clip about it:

Capitol Hill Watch | Senate Approves Amendments To Economic Stimulus Package, Adds $6.5B for Medical Research at NIH [Feb 04, 2009]

The Senate on Tuesday during debate on an economic stimulus package approved amendments, such as a measure that would increase funds for medical research at NIH, that raised the cost of the package to more than $900 billion, the New York Times reports (Herszenhorn, New York Times, 2/4). The amendment, proposed by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), would provide NIH with an additional $6.5 billion (Rubin/Schatz, CQ Today, 2/3). Senate Republicans did not object to the amendment (Taylor, AP/Arizona Daily Star, 2/4). In addition, the Senate rejected an amendment supported by the pharmaceutical industry that would have allowed multinational corporations to repatriate profits at lower tax rates (Groppe, Indianapolis Star, 2/4).
My favorite quote from today's news stories

"A Senate-passed provision to give $10 billion to the National Institutes of Health for research - a favorite of both Harkin and Specter, appeared likely to survive."

Ang :)
Yes, it looks awfully promising at this point. I'm anxious to see if the compromise bill retained the 120 day spending window that was in the House version.
Hello, Keith
I would like to say thank you for how hard you work at keeping all of us here on PPMD updated on the happenings thru the congress/senate that will somehow affect our families in a positive way and sometimes in a negative way!

You keep this info very current.....thank you!
Keith said:
Yes, it looks awfully promising at this point. I'm anxious to see if the compromise bill retained the 120 day spending window that was in the House version.
Thanks, Cheryl.

The text of the compromise stimulus bill still isn't posted online, but some sources are reporting the contents already - including the juicy tidbit below. It hasn't passed or been signed by the President yet, but all indications are that the compromise bill will become law by the weekend.

Capitol Hill Watch | Final Vote on $789B Economic Stimulus Package Expected Today [Feb 13, 2009]

The House and Senate on Friday likely will vote on a $789B billion compromise economic stimulus package that includes a number of provisions related to health care spending, USA Today reports (Wolf, USA Today, 2/13). Among other provisions, the stimulus package includes:

$10 billion in additional funds for NIH, with $8.5 billion allocated for research grants and $1.5 billion allocated to renovate research facilities (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 2/12).

This is pretty darn huge. It represents an almost 30% increase in NIH research funds over last year - plus upgrades facilities. The devil will be in the details here - I'm still wondering if there's a time limit on spending the funds, like what was in the House version. If the time limit is too short, there could be issues in being able to actually spend the money quickly enough. In any case - this is a big win for anyone interested in more biomedical research. It represents more than the increase in total NIH appropriations (not just research funding) over the last 6 years combined. Considering inflation, it's even more years than that.

The amendment in the Senate to add money to the NIH was introduced by Senator Arlen Specter of PA, and followed up with another by Senator Harkin of IA. For certain, it wouldn't have stayed in the Senate version without the support of Senators Snowe and Collins of ME. The amendment passed on a voice vote, so it's impossible to determine exactly who else supported it. But, the fact that it passed on a voice vote perhaps suggests that the Senate in general recognizes that NIH needs more funding.

I think this bodes well for our advocacy efforts in DC earlier this week. This does not replace the need for sustained increased funding at NIH. Biomedical research isn't a short term project, so be sure to respond to the advocacy action alert posted on the main site here, and pass it along to as many friends and family as possible.

Overall, this is great news for us....
As best I can tell - and it's difficult to read these things, so I could be wrong - it looks like NIH got $7.4 billion allocated directly to research in the stimulus bill. There's additional money for facilities.

$7,4000,000,000 shall be transferred to the Institutes and Centers of the National Institutes of Health and to the Common Fund established under section 402A(c)(1) of the Public Health Service Act in proportion to the appropriations otherwise made to such Institutes, Centers, and Common Fund for fiscal year 2009: Provided further, that these funds shall be used to support additional scientific research and shall be merged with and be available for the same purposes as the appropriation or fund to which transferred.

Conference committee report link here. Page 155.

Need to review it with somebody more in touch with this. I'll post when I get more definition, or if anybody else gets details, please do the same...

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