The omnibus spending bill unveiled by U.S. Congress this week would restore some research budgets cut by sequestration. However, the total allocated remains lower, in real terms, compared with previous years.
This week the U.S. Congress rolled out an omnibus $1.1 trillion spending bill, designed to keep the U.S. government in operation through October 2014. The bipartisan bill was authored by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) and Senate counterpart Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).
In terms of the money allocated for science spending, $29.934 billion in funding is allocated for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Whilst this is a $1 billion increase from the agency’s sequester-wracked 2013 budget, it does not restore spending in "real terms" from the 2012 position.
Commenting on the budget outcome, Carrie Wolinetz, president of the biomedical science advocacy group United for Medical Research, said in a statement: "The proposed package won’t adequately reverse the damage done by last year’s budget sequester and ensure the nation’s biomedical research enterprise makes continued progress in lifesaving research and development."
In a similar way, Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley is quoted as saying: "Funding for the National Institutes of Health has been kept well below the level of scientific opportunity." With this it is pointed out that The NIH budget increase contained in the spending bill is, in fact, $714 million less than 2013’s “enacted level” of $30.648 billion.
Woolley also added that "We must eliminate sequestration once and for all, and grow our investment in NIH in order to slow and halt the progression of diseases and disabilities ranging from Alzheimer’s to diabetes to traumatic brain injury. But as long as Congress avoids the primary issues fueling our national debt—tax and entitlement reform—it will be difficult to invest robustly in solutions to our problems."