NIH Budget Easily Clears the First Hurdle

Biomedical researchers got some good news late yesterday: A key House appropriations subcommittee voted unanimously to give the National Institutes of Health (NIH) a raise of 6% in 1998. If enacted, the bill would boost NIH's budget from $12.7 billion this year to $13.5 billion in 1998.

The proposed hike--the first step in a long budget approval process on Capitol Hill--would be more than double the increase requested in the president's budget. The House subcommittee vote won immediate praise from biomedical research advocacy groups like the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). FASEB staffers said they were also pleased that Republican and Democratic leaders agreed to keep the bill free of controversial amendments.

Republicans leaders intend to move the legislation to the full appropriations committee this week and possibly to the House floor for a final vote before the end of July. Meanwhile, a Senate subcommittee chaired by Arlen Specter (R-PA) may take up NIH funding as soon as 22 July.