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House Considers FY 2011 Spending Bill
February 18, 2011—The House of Representatives Feb. 15 began consideration on a continuing resolution (CR) to provide funding for the remainder of FY 2011. House Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) Feb. 17 announced that Republicans and Democrats have reached a unanimous consent to limit the remaining amendments for consideration to just over 120. Approximately 24 hours of debate are expected before a vote on the House floor. H.R. 1 cuts nearly $61 billion from FY 2010 funding, rolling non-security discretionary spending back to FY 2008 levels.
In a Feb. 16 letter, AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., urged House members to oppose H.R. 1, “which will destabilize funding for the nation’s medical research enterprise, as well as other health priorities, including programs to bolster the health care workforce in parts of the country where they are needed most.”
As introduced in the House, H.R. 1 cuts the NIH budget by $1.6 billion (5.2 percent) from the FY 2010 level. Specifically, the CR cuts $260 million for non-competing grants inflation, and includes an unprecedented statutory limit of $400,000 for competing research project grants (RPGs).The CR also includes a $639.5 million pro rata reduction of all Institute/Center/Office of the Director (OD) budgets, described in an accompanying summary as "General Reduction to FY 2008 Levels," and includes a statutory mandate on the NIH Director to "ensure at least a total of 9,000 new competing research grants.”
Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) offered an amendment to restore funding for NIH. The amendment was ruled out of order because it was offset by eliminating gas and oil subsidies funded through a different appropriations subcommittee. The amendment was cosponsored by Reps. Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), Rush Holt (D-N.J.), and Susan Davis (D-Calif.).
The bill specifies $352.8 million for the Title VII and Title VIII health professions programs (a $145.1 million, or 29.1 percent, cut below FY 2010), reverting funding close to the FY 2008 level for the programs. The measure also eliminates FY 2011 discretionary appropriation for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC); however, NHSC has additional FY 2011 funding provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (P.L. 111-5) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA, P.L. 111-148 and P.L. 111-152). For the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the continuing resolution provides $372.1 million, $25 million (6.7 percent) less than FY 2010. While FY 2011 VA medical care is advanced-funded under the FY 2010 omnibus appropriations [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 11, 2009], H.R. 1 would freeze VA research at $581 million.
The Office of Management and Budget Feb. 15 issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) opposing H.R. 1, saying the bill “proposes cuts that would sharply undermine core government functions and investments key to economic growth and job creation, and would reduce funding for the Department of Defense to a level that would leave the Department without the resources and flexibility needed to meet vital military requirements.”
The federal government is currently operating under a CR (P.L. 111-322) that expires March 4.
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