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House panel proposes $2 billion increase for NIH

A spending panel in the U.S. House of Representatives has proposed giving the National Institutes of Health (NIH) a $2 billion raise, for a total of $41.1 billion, in a draft bill released today. If adopted, that 5% raise for the 2020 fiscal year that begins on 1 October would more than reverse a $5 billion cut recommended by President Donald Trump, whose three budget blueprints have all called for slashing NIH funding.

The spending bill is the first put forward this year by the House Appropriations Committee, now in Democratic hands. But it is consistent with previous legislation written by Republican-led panels and, if passed, would provide the fifth consecutive substantial increase for NIH.

It includes $2.4 billion for Alzheimer’s research, an increase of $100 million. Funding for the All of Us precision medicine study would go up by $124 million, to $500 million. The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative would receive $411 million, $18 million less than this year.

A new 10-year Childhood Cancer Data Initiative proposed by Trump in his State of the Union address would receive a first-year allocation of $50 million. But funding for the cancer moonshot, an initiative begun in 2017 by former President Barack Obama’s administration, would drop by half to just $195 million. That reduction is written into its source of funding, the 21st Century Cures Act, which aims to speed the development of new treatments. Like previous bills, the measure rejects a request by the Trump administration to fold the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality into a new institute at NIH.

Reflecting Democrats’ priorities, the bill includes $25 million for firearm injury prevention research, which had not been tagged for a specific amount before and is a substantial increase over the 2018 spending of $10 million. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] would also receive $25 million, the first funding since Congress passed a 1996 law banning CDC from advocating for gun control, The Hill reports.) HIV/AIDS funding, which had been flat at $3 billion since at least 2015, would grow to $3.2 billion.

“We are very grateful that the House is continuing its robust investment in biomedical research. … This is a great start for the FY [fiscal year] 2020 appropriations process and we look forward to seeing what the Senate will propose,” says Benjamin Krinsky, associate director for legislative affairs for the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in Bethesda, Maryland.

The House subcommittee will vote on the bill on Tuesday afternoon. A more detailed report will be available once the legislation comes before the full appropriations committee.

*Update, 30 April, 10:40 a.m.: This story has been updated.