House, Senate Seek Increases for NIH; Slightly Lower Levels for IES in Senate

September 21st, 2017

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3354 on September 14th, an eight-bill spending package that would provide funding for most of the federal government for FY 2018. Included in the package was the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill, which the House Appropriations Committee approved on July 19. The Committee recommended $35.2 billion (a $1.1 billion increase) for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and $605.3 million for the Institute for Education Sciences (IES), which is flat funding relative to FY 2017 levels. The bill also rejected the Administration’s proposed cap on Facilities and Administrative (indirect) costs on NIH grantees.

Of the over 200 amendments that were ruled in order for the “octobus” bill was one that aimed to cut IES by $195 million. The American Educational Research Association, FABBS, and others alerted scientists to contact their elected officials about the amendment. In the end, the amendment was not offered, and IES funding remained flat through the House vote. The Senate is not expected to consider HR 3354, but rather to work on another strategy for funding all federal agencies through FY 2018.

On the Senate side, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved S. 1771, the FY 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Committee bill boosting both NIH and IES. Thanks to the strong bipartisan support the NIH enjoys in the Senate, led by Senators Blunt (R-MO) and Murray (D-WA) who oversee the relevant appropriations subcommittee, the NIH received another $2 billion funding increase in the bill, for a total of $36.1 billion in FY 2018. This latest installment represents a $6 billion, or 20 percent, increase for NIH over the last three years, and is $9.5 billion more than the President requested.

In the Senate bill, the NIH total includes $400 million for the BRAIN initiative, which is $140 million more than its FY 2017 funding level, and $1.8 billion for trans-NIH Alzheimer’s disease research, a $414 million increase over FY 2017. In a report accompanying the bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee also rejects the Administration’s proposed 10 percent cap on Facilities and Administrative costs for NIH grantees.

In addition to boosting NIH funding, the bill provides $816 million for programs aimed at combatting opioid abuse. Specifically, programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Health Resources and Services Administration will receive this additional funding to continue fighting the nation’s opioid epidemic. The Senate bill also provides level funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a relief to health services researchers who have endured years of proposed research cuts to the agency.

In the Education section of the bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee proposed providing the IES with $600.3 million, which is a less than one percent decrease in the agency’s FY 2017 appropriation, but 2.7 percent below the Administration’s request.