AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, June 19 praised the House of Representatives for approving a four-bill spending package (H.R. 2740) that includes the fiscal year (FY) 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Appropriations bill. Seven Democrats joined all House Republicans in voting against the bill, for a final tally of 226-203.
In the statement, Dr. Kirch applauded the House “for advancing legislation that invests in key programs that will benefit patients and strengthen the nation’s health security.” This includes increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Health Resources and Services Administration-administered workforce and pipeline programs), and other key health security programs.
The House June 13 completed consideration of amendments to the Labor-HHS spending bill [see Washington Highlights, June 14], which maintained the committee-approved funding levels for the NIH and other health care priorities [see Washington Highlights, May 10]. The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, convened by the AAMC, issued a June 19 statement on the House-passed bill, noting that the $2 billion increase for NIH “would continue the sustained funding momentum of the last four years by supporting the base budgets of all NIH institutes and centers while also continuing funding for specific initiatives, such as programs established in the 21st Century Cures Act.”
Both statements also urged Congress and the White House to raise the overall discretionary budget caps to support sufficient investment in health care priorities in FY 2020. Congress and the administration will need to reach an agreement on topline funding levels for the government before the spending levels in the minibus can be enacted without triggering steep across-the-board cuts through sequestration [see Washington Highlights, April 12].
House and Senate leadership, who met with White House and other administration officials June 19, told reporters that discussions were making progress, but not as quickly as either body would like. Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) was quoted by reporters that “[budget] numbers are closer than they’ve ever been” in the negotiations but is not sure how close Democrats are to a serious discussion with other negotiating parties. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued a June 19 joint statement noting, “While we did not reach an agreement, today’s conversation advanced our bipartisan discussions. If the House and Senate could work their will without interference from the President, we could come to a good agreement much more quickly.”
The Senate has yet to officially set a timeline for consideration of its FY 2020 spending bills.