The United States Congress will soon be facing another budget showdown as their sixth continuing resolution expires on April 8, 2011. While the entire government has been without permanent appropriations for nearly six months, the House Republicans and Senate Democrats continue to remain far apart on resolving the fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget.
Among the myriad of issues under discussion is a House-passed bill (H.R. 1), which cuts funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $1.6 billion in FY 2011. The alternative Senate proposal would maintain NIH funding at current levels (FY 2010). A cut of this magnitude proposed by the House would slow research progress and squander invaluable scientific opportunities to the detriment of our nation’s health and our ability to maintain leadership in the global innovation economy.
Jon Retzlaff, managing director of the AACR’s Office of Science Policy and Government Affairs in Washington, D.C., said the $1.6 billion cut would leave the NIH budget at $29.4 billion, which is where it was in fiscal year 2008. However, when adjusted for biomedical inflation, H.R. 1 reduces NIH’s funding capacity to just slightly above the FY 2001 level.
“The numbers are staggering because even at 2010 levels the NIH has lost 13 percent of its purchasing power since 2003 because increases have not kept pace with inflation,” said Retzlaff. “It is unfathomable that members of Congress are considering this draconian cut to the NIH budget at a time when we are poised to make a quantum leap in our abilities to help millions of patients. The AACR will work with our allies in Congress and the advocacy community to ensure that NIH is funded at least at its FY 2010 level.”
Material adapted from American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).