Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in the U.S. House of Representatives today voiced their displeasure with the Trump administration’s proposed $5.8 billion cut next year to the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. But they avoided asking NIH Director Francis Collins for his thoughts on the topic, perhaps knowing that it would put him in a very uncomfortable spot.
During a hearing on "advances in biomedical research", Representative Tom Cole (R–OK), who chairs the House appropriations panel that oversees NIH’s budget, said he was “very proud” of a $2 billion increase, to $34.1 billion, that Congress approved for NIH in 2017. That action overrode President Donald Trump’s request for a $1 billion cut. Cole added that he was “disappointed” with Trump’s 2018 proposal in his “skinny budget” released in March to cut NIH by 18%. That would “stall progress” and “potentially discourage promising young scientists” from pursuing biomedical research, Cole said.
Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D–CT) and Nita Lowey (D–NY) said the president actually wants to cut NIH’s next budget by $8 billion, using as a baseline the amount that NIH had been appropriated for 2017 when the skinny budget was issued. That 24% drop would mean 5000 to 8000 fewer grants. Such a decline would “decimate biomedical research and the economy” by eliminating 90,000 jobs, said Lowey, citing a new analysis by United for Medical Research, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.