House and Senate Reach Deal on NIH Funding
House and Senate leaders have reached an agreement over spending levels for remaining appropriations bills that have yet to be passed. The House approved the first part of the Omnibus Appropriations bill that includes six of the seven unfinished appropriations bills, including the NIH spending bill. The Senate is expected to take action on the measure early next week.
Under the agreement, NIH would receive a $692 million increase over last year’s levels, which translates into a 2.3 percent increase. This level is lower than the 7 percent to 10 percent increase that the research community was advocating, but higher than the President’s original request. Many in Congress were reluctant to increase NIH funding beyond these levels due to the unprecedented increase that the NIH received in the stimulus package earlier this year.
The House and Senate will then pass the Defense Appropriations bill, which could include other items, such as a stop-gap measure to prevent the 21 percent cut in physician payments. There is talk that the patch could be anywhere from 30 days to six months. Congress is hoping to complete work on the last appropriations bill next week.
AGA will continue to provide updates on NIH funding and the SGR. As always, look for the most up to date information on the AGA Washington Insider.