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Congress in Stalemate on FY22, Ad Hoc Group Urges Swift Passage of Funding for NIH

November 19, 2021

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Christa Wagner, Manager, Government Relations

House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) issued a Nov. 16 letter to House Democrats with an update on the appropriations process, noting that next steps in finalizing fiscal year (FY) 2022 spending bills would require a willingness from House and Senate Republicans to negotiate topline spending levels.

DeLauro’s letter cited a Nov. 15 letter from the AAMC and over 300 other members of the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research (Ad Hoc)  referencing the detrimental impacts of yearlong continuing resolutions (CRs) to public health and medical research. The Ad Hoc letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders urged swift enactment of $46.4 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) base budget in FY 2022.

The Ad Hoc letter was also cited in a Nov. 17 press statement on the FY 2022 appropriations process released by DeLauro and chairs of all House appropriations subcommittees. The press statement also cited a Nov. 12 memo from the Office of Management and Budget detailing the need to finalize FY 2022 funding, specifically NIH funding to invest in “cutting-edge” medical research, and increase the number of funded grants by an estimated 2,200.

“Every additional Continuing Resolution and delay will deprive our families, small businesses, communities, and military of the certainty they need. And a full-year Continuing Resolution … would be nothing short of catastrophic,” the members stated. “We urge our Republican colleagues to respond to our proposals with an offer that will allow us to begin conference negotiations and enact an omnibus appropriations bill in December,” the appropriators concluded.

In its letter, the Ad Hoc Group, convened by the AAMC, shared appreciation for the increases for the NIH in FY 2022 proposed by House and Senate lawmakers and urged Congress to pass the new spending bills to avoid additional CRs beyond the current CR that expires on Dec. 3 [refer to Washington Highlights, Oct. 1].

“Continuing the momentum of the prior six years of bipartisan support for meaningful funding growth in the NIH’s existing institutes and centers is key to ensuring that the nation can continue to accelerate the development of life-changing cures, pioneering treatments and diagnostics, and innovative preventive strategies,” the Ad Hoc members wrote.

The Ad Hoc letter also acknowledged the proposed supplemental investments for President Joe Biden’s proposed Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) initiative [refer to related story]. “Prioritizing strong investments for foundational research discoveries funded by the NIH will be critical to the success of the visionary new research initiative, particularly as it builds its operational capacity in its inaugural year and beyond,” the letter stated.

The House of Representatives passed its FY 2022 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies spending bill on July 29, including $46.4 billion for the NIH base budget and $3 billion for ARPA-H [refer to Washington Highlights, July 30]. Senate Appropriations Committee Democrats released a draft proposal including $45.5 billion for the NIH’s base budget as well as $2.4 billion for ARPA-H [refer to Washington Highlights, Oct. 22].

The chairs and ranking members of the appropriations committees met on Nov. 2 to negotiate top-line funding for the FY 2022 spending bills to facilitate completion of the appropriations process. The leaders did not reach a compromise and have since reported the expectation of an additional short-term CR to allow time for further negotiations, if not a yearlong CR. 

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