Biomedical lobbyists say they are satisfied with a $692 million increase for the National Institutes of Health in 2010 approved yesterday by a combined House of Representatives and Senate committee. "Some people may be disappointed" with a $31 billion budget, says Dave Moore, senior director for government relations at the Association of American Medical Colleges. But given the $10.4 billion NIH received in the president's stimulus package in 2009, he adds, "it's a very positive development."
The bill, which tops the president's earlier request by $250 million, provides full funding for the National Children's Study. The congressionally mandated project ran into trouble earlier this year when NIH officials revealed the total cost could be double the original estimate of $3 billion. While disgruntled Senate appropriators did not allocate a specific funding level for the study, the conferees provide the $194 million that the study is expected to need in 2010. The conferees also dropped House-approved language removing funding for three NIH grants to study HIV risks among sex workers and alcoholics. While the language could reappear later in the legislative process, "so far, so good," says Karen Studwell, senior legislative and federal affairs officer for the American Psychological Association.
The House may vote on the omnibus bill this week, but health reform legislation could delay action in the Senate. A temporary spending measure for NIH and several other agencies runs out on 18 December.