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DelBene Leads Bipartisan Letter Urging $2 Billion Boost for NIH

More than 160 House members signed the bipartisan letter urging congressional leaders to prioritize biomedical research by increasing funding for NIH.

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Washington, DC, November 10, 2016 | comments

Today, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) led more than 160 House members in urging the House Appropriations Committee to fund the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at no less than $34 billion in any forthcoming appropriations legislation. The bipartisan letter was co-led by Reps. David McKinley (WV-01), Chris Van Hollen (MD-08) and Peter King (NY-02).

“On a bipartisan basis, members of the 114th Congress have repeatedly demonstrated our clear and unambiguous support for strengthening investments in NIH. We know this funding helps us push the boundaries of scientific knowledge, advance promising research and offer hope to millions of Americans suffering from heartbreaking diseases,” the members wrote. “If we are serious about breaking new ground in our understanding of complex and life-threatening conditions, then it is absolutely essential we increase funding for NIH. Simply put, we cannot hope to accelerate the development of new cures, therapies and vaccines without additional resources for research.”

Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have approved funding increases for NIH in fiscal year 2017. The House bill (H.R. 5926) allocates $33.3 billion for NIH, while the Senate bill (S. 3040) provides $34 billion for the agency — a $2 billion increase above 2016 levels. Neither bill has received a floor vote.

Federal funding for NIH supports more than 400,000 American jobs and generates more than $60 billion in new economic activity. Unfortunately, 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 nearly 20 percent since 2003. Last year, DelBene helped successfully secure a $2 billion increase for the agency, to its current level of $32 billion, but that is still well below its inflation-adjusted level from 2003.

The letter is endorsed by more than 20 organizations, including: the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR); the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy; the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ASC CAN); the American Diabetes Association; the American Heart Association; the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO); the American Urological Association; the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI); the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC); the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU); the Coalition for Imaging and Bioengineering Research (CIBR); the Coalition for Life Sciences; the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; Fight Colorectal Cancer; and Research!America.

The letter is signed by 164 Republican and Democratic members of the House. A copy of the signed letter is available HERE and the full text follows:

Dear Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Lowey:

As the House works to craft appropriations legislation before the current continuing resolution expires on December 9, 2016, we write to express our strong support for increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In any forthcoming appropriations legislation for FY 2017, we urge you to work with your Senate colleagues to ensure NIH receives a funding level of no less than $34 billion, equal to the level approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee, in order to maintain America’s role as a global leader in biomedical research and groundbreaking medical discoveries.  

On a bipartisan basis, members of the 114th Congress have repeatedly demonstrated our clear and unambiguous support for strengthening investments in NIH. We know this funding helps us push the boundaries of scientific knowledge, advance promising research and offer hope to millions of Americans suffering from heartbreaking diseases. Federal funding for this life-saving research is also a key economic driver for our nation, supporting more than 400,000 jobs and generating over $60 billion in new economic activity. It delivers a significant return on our investment today and for generations to come. 

While the increase included in last year’s omnibus appropriations bill was an important step, we remain concerned that federal investments in biomedical research have failed to keep pace with inflation over the last 13 years. By failing to hold NIH funding constant with other rising costs, Congress has allowed the agency’s purchasing power to diminish by nearly 20 percent since 2003. As other countries’ investments in research continue to grow at a far faster pace than those made by 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 and life-threatening conditions, then it is absolutely essential we increase funding for NIH. Simply put, we cannot hope to accelerate the development of new cures, therapies and vaccines without additional resources for research. Particularly given the significant investments in NIH approved earlier this year by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, we feel strongly that now is the time to recommit to America’s long-term health and prosperity.

While we understand the difficult fiscal challenges you face, we urge you to prioritize the important role NIH plays in medical innovation and economic growth by funding the agency at an annual level of no less than $34 billion. Thank you for your consideration of this request, which will make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of Americans. 

Sincerely,

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