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Lydia Polimeni/National Institutes of Health

NIH gets $2 billion boost in final 2019 spending bill

Congress has approved a $2 billion raise, to $39.1 billion, for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in a 2019 spending bill approved by House of Representatives and Senate negotiators last night.

As expected, the 5% boost matches the Senate’s proposed spending level and surpasses a $1.25 billion increase in a draft bill passed by the House. President Donald Trump’s administration had requested $34.8 billion for the fiscal year that begins 1 October. This is the fourth year in a row that NIH has received a substantial increase, after more than a decade of flat budgets.

The final bill funding the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), NIH’s parent agency, also matches the amounts the Senate measure had tagged for NIH research in specific areas. It includes $425 million more for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (bringing the total to $2.34 billion); a $100 million increase for the cancer moonshot, or $400 million total; and an $86 million raise for the All of Us precision medicine study, for a total of $376 million.

The bill ignores a Trump administration request to fold three HHS agencies into NIH, including the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. It does not include a provision in the House measure that would have banned NIH from funding research using fetal tissue from elective abortions. 

It is the first time in 22 years that Congress has approved a bill funding HHS before the fiscal year begins, according to Congressional Quarterly. The bill, dubbed a “minibus” because it combines funding for HHS and the Department of Defense, will go next to both the House and Senate for final approval, thenTrump for his signature.