Two days after touring the main Bethesda campus of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took to the Senate floor June 19 to speak about what he'd seen at NIH and what he feared for American biomedical research as sequestration-related cuts tear through the agency's budget. The Senate Majority Leader told his colleagues about talking with a 7-year-old patient at the NIH Clinical Center. "The little girl I met there – think of the work that is not going to be done with little girls and little boys like her because, this year alone, $1.5 billion is cut from their program," Reid said.
On the Senate floor, Reid focused on what sequestration-related cuts are doing to NIH-funded research both at NIH and around the country. "These shortsighted cuts in the research funding will cost us valuable cures tomorrow," the senator warned. "While these costs may not be felt this month, this year, or even this decade, their long-term consequences will be grave."
Reid was particularly concerned about the impact cuts were already having on the biomedical research workforce. "It is sad to me that these wonderful people, who are dedicating their lives to not how much money they can make but how much better they can make people feel and what they can do to cure disease, are (now) looking for other places."
Reid visited the Bethesda campus on June 17 and, after a briefing on intramural and extramural research being underwritten by NIH, toured the NIH Clinical Center. The visit seemed to make an impression on Reid.