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Only 1.4% Boost for NIH From Senate Panel

A Senate spending panel has matched President Barack Obama's request for funding for the National Institutes of Health in 2010—a $442 million boost to $31.8 billion. That slight 1.4% bump is less than half of the increase the House of Representatives approved last week. After the full committee and Senate approve the bill, it will be reconciled with the House version.

Like the president, the Senate appropriations labor, health and human services subcommittee, headed by Tom Harkin (D–IA), felt that NIH didn't need more money because the Recovery Act gave it $10 billion to spend through 2010. The bill "was greatly influenced" by the funding in the Act, a statement from the committee says. But the bill does not include the president's request for bigger boosts for cancer and autism research, according to Jennifer Zeitzer, director of legislative relations for the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. FASEB is "pleased" because disease-specific allocations go against the serendipitous nature of scientific discovery, she says. FASEB is hoping for a higher overall number for NIH in the conference with the House.