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Congresswoman Suzan DelBene

Representing the 1st District of Washington

DelBene Leads Group of Over 100 House Members Urging Restoration of NIH Funding in Lame Duck

Nov 10, 2014
Press Release
As the U.S. combats public health threats posed by Ebola and Enterovirus, letter urges House leaders to prioritize biomedical research by fully funding the NIH before the 113th Congress adjourns

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene led a group of more than 100 House colleagues in urging Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to fully restore funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to its pre-sequester level, adjusted for inflation, when the current continuing resolution expires on December 11, 2014. The letter was co-led by Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, and is supported by a broad array of research advocacy organizations and biomedical research institutions.

“We know that funding for biomedical research at NIH gives us a great return on investment, supporting medical innovation that saves lives, improves health outcomes, and reduces costs,” said Congresswoman Suzan DelBene. “It is short-sighted and irresponsible for Congress to continue denying NIH the resources it needs to develop the next generation of cures, treatments, and vaccines. The time to fully restore funding for NIH is now.”

“I’m proud to represent the NIH.  It is at the forefront of biomedical research, helping to drive the search for cures and treatments for diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and heart disease – issues that impact every American family.  If we don’t adequately fund these crucial efforts, we do a huge disservice to millions of people across the country,” said Congressman Van Hollen. “Congresswoman DelBene has been an invaluable partner in this effort, and we’ll keep working until Congress appropriately prioritizes the key role that NIH plays in both research and economic growth.”

Federal funding for the NIH supports over 300,000 American jobs at more than 2,500 research institutions across the country. Unfortunately, over the last 10 years, the federal government’s contributions toward basic research at NIH have consistently failed to keep pace with inflation, allowing the agency’s purchasing power to diminish by more than 20 percent since 2003. Budget cuts imposed on the agency during sequestration further exacerbated this trend, reducing NIH’s budget by an additional 5 percent in FY 2013.

“If we don’t have the next generation of researchers, we won’t have the next generation of lifesaving treatments for patients,” said Frederick R. Appelbaum, M.D., Senior Vice President at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “We want to thank Congresswoman DelBene, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, and all who have signed this important letter.  With her scientific background, Congresswoman DelBene is uniquely suited to represent us, and we are deeply appreciative of her understanding of the impact of NIH funding on the life sciences, particularly the Hutch.”

“If the U.S. wants to ensure its continued global leadership at the forefront of research and innovation, Congress must restore NIH funding,” said Chris Rivera, President and CEO of the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association (WBBA). “Thank you to Rep. DelBene for her leadership on restoring NIH funding, and to Reps. Larsen, McDermott, Heck, Kilmer and Smith for signing the letter in support.”

Among the organizations supporting the letter are: the Academy of Radiology Research; The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research; the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR); the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ASC CAN); the American Heart Association; the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC); the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU); the Coalition for Imaging & Bioengineering Research (CIBR); and the Coalition for Life Sciences.

The letter is signed by 114 Members of the House, including Reps. Rick Larsen, Jim McDermott, Denny Heck, Derek Kilmer, and Adam Smith from the Washington delegation. 

A PDF copy of the signed letter is available here. The full text of the letter is below:

 

Dear Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi:

As the House begins crafting appropriations legislation before the current continuing resolution expires on December 11, 2014, we write to express our deep concern with the current funding level provided for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In any continuing resolution or omnibus appropriations package for FY 2015, we urge you to work with your colleagues in the Senate to fully restore NIH funding to at least the agency’s pre-sequester level, adjusted for inflation, in order to maintain America’s role as a global leader in biomedical research and ground-breaking medical discoveries. 

We are concerned that, over the last 10 years, the federal government’s contributions toward basic research at NIH have consistently failed to keep pace with inflation. By failing to at least hold NIH funding constant with other rising costs, Congress has allowed the agency’s purchasing power to diminish by more than 20 percent since 2003. Irresponsible budget cuts imposed on the agency during sequestration only further exacerbated this trend, reducing NIH’s budget by an additional 5 percent in FY 2013. As the growth in other countries’ investments in medical research continues to far outpace those made here in the U.S., it is more critical than ever that we act to reverse this trend.

Insufficient funding for NIH has a serious, wide-ranging impact on our nation’s health and our capacity for medical innovation in the 21st century. If we are serious about breaking new ground in our understanding of complex diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer, and if we hope to accelerate the speed with which new cures, treatments and vaccines are developed – goals that are supported by Congressional leaders of both parties – then it’s absolutely essential that we increase funding for medical research at NIH. Particularly given our constituents’ renewed focus in recent months on developing vaccines and treatments for diseases like Ebola and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), we feel strongly that now is the time to invest in our nation’s long-term health and prosperity.

While we understand the difficult fiscal challenges you face, we urge you to prioritize the important role that NIH plays in biomedical research and economic growth by working to fully restore its funding to at least pre-sequester levels, adjusted for inflation. Thank you for your consideration.

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