Election-year politics to add to divisiveness
The debate over fiscal year 2013 spending will officially get underway next month when President Obama presents Congress with the administration’s budget request on Feb. 13.
In an encouraging sign, the president took the opportunity during the recent Jan. 24 State of the Union address to inspire support for investment in basic research:
"Innovation also demands basic research. Today, the discoveries taking place in our federally financed labs and universities could lead to new treatments that kill cancer cells but leave healthy ones untouched...Don't gut these investments in our budget."
Whether or not Congress will take these words to heart remains to be seen. What is nearly certain, however, is that the partisan stalemate that characterized Congress in 2011 will carry over into this new year, likely escalating as the November 2012 elections approach.
Last year, after months of contentious debate and facing another possibility of a government shutdown, Congress reached a last-minute compromise on a FY2012 spending package that included a small boost in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
While NIH once again fell behind in terms of purchasing power, it fared much better than many other programs and agencies under the Department of Health and Human Services, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency, all of which received outright cuts of as much as 1 percent.
As Congress shifts gears to debate the FY2013 budget, cuts to NIH will undoubtedly be on the table once again as lawmakers strive to reduce federal spending. The advocacy efforts that convinced Congress to provide an increase for NIH and NCI, sparing them from the cuts other programs received, will need to be sustained, if not redoubled.
By working together, we can make a difference and ensure that cancer and biomedical research remains a strong national priority. Sign-up here to join the AACR Cancer Action Alliance and receive breaking news alerts and learn about opportunities to join other scientists, patients, survivors and concerned citizens in calling on Congress to provide critical funding increases for the lifesaving cancer and biomedical research supported by NIH and NCI.
You can also find additional tools and resources to help you capture the attention of Congress and influence public opinion here.
Read More From the January Edition of the AACR Cancer Policy Monitor: