House pushes for sweeping spending reductions
With the battle over fiscal year 2011 nearly behind them, lawmakers are now gearing up for what may be an even more rancorous clash over next year’s budget. Although cancer research was spared from severe budget cuts in the latest round, the FY2012 plan being pushed forward in the House suggests that NIH could very well be a target again.
The non-binding budget resolution unveiled by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and recently approved by the House Budget Committee would reduce federal spending by $6.2 trillion over the next decade, primarily through changes to Medicaid and Medicare, and reduced spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill also seeks to slow the growth of non-defense, discretionary spending over the next few years. Specifically, the bill aims to cut discretionary health spending, which includes spending for the NIH, by 13.5 percent from current levels and then freeze funding at that level through FY2016.
During debate in committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) offered an amendment that would have prevented cuts to NIH funding within the larger discretionary health spending portion of the budget. Although the proposal was rejected along a party-line vote, it demonstrated a will in Congress to fight for biomedical research as the budget debate heats up. Wasserman Schultz, a breast cancer survivor, emphasized the importance of cancer research in her remarks, saying,
So many major public health breakthroughs, for cancer or other chronic diseases, would not have happened without federal support. Cancer incidence is projected to nearly double by 2020, particularly among the aging baby boomer population. It has never been more vital that we continue to develop the tools to increase early detection and effective treatments–and ultimately, cures. Treatments developed through NIH-funded research are battling breast, lung, prostate and brain cancer.
The AACR sent a letter to Rep. Wasserman Schultz thanking her for her efforts.
Funding for individual agencies and programs are not specified at this point in the budget process; lawmakers are focused on establishing a broad framework for federal spending that will inform the next steps in the appropriations process.
The House Budget Resolution will be considered on the floor later this week, and the Senate Budget Committee is expected to unveil its proposal in the coming weeks. The AACR will continue working to engage appropriators to make the case for sustaining our nation’s investment in the NIH.
Read more from the April Edition of the AACR Cancer Policy Monitor: