With the news about federal funding for scientific research continuing to look bleak, ASCB’s Public Policy Committee (PPC) launched a highly targeted campaign in support of fundamental biomedical research. PPC members, whose representatives serve on either the House or Senate Appropriations Committee, asked ASCB members in their home state to contact their representatives to explain the importance of fundamental research funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), especially the National Institute of general Medical Sciences (NIGMS).
The advocacy campaign should contact 42 members of the House or Senate Appropriations Committee from 16 states. Hopefully, ASCB members contacted will join in the campaign to remind their members of Congress of the importance of fundamental biomedical research.
Why is the PPC Concerned?
PPC first became concerned about possible funding cuts to NIH fundamental research when President Biden’s FY2024 budget proposal did not include additional funding for the NIGMS. In response, ASCB President Erika Holzbaur sent a letter to leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees expressing the ASCB’s concern and asking them to provide NIGMS with the funding necessary “to support basic biomedical research and ensure that the biomedical research pipeline does not dry up.”
The debate in Washington, DC about extending the federal debt limit increased the PPC’s concerns. The leadership of the House of Representatives insisted that in order for Congress to agree to extend the federal debt limit, the White House has to make significant cuts to a small portion of the federal budget. With Congress unable or politically unwilling to cut many portions (spending on defense, veteran’s affairs, Social Security, and Medicare) of the annual budget, a small portion, the Nondefense Discretionary (NDD) section, which includes NIH, NSF, and NASA, will have to absorb all the cuts. It is estimated that the nondefense R&D portion of the NDD could see cumulative cuts of $461 billion or 39% between FY2024 and FY2033.
Over Memorial Day weekend, President Biden and Kevin McCarthy, Speaker of the House of Representatives, reached an agreement to extend the federal debt limit until 2025 and hold overall federal spending flat for two fiscal years, not the sizable cuts originally called for by the House of Representatives.
Legislation enacting the Biden-McCarthy deal became law just a few days before the U.S. reached the economic cliff. The responsibility of putting the federal funding portion of the deal in place now rests with the Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate.
However, two years of essentially flat funding for NDD programs will effectively result in real budget cuts to the NDD programs when accounting for increases in inflation over the same time period.
About the Author:
Kevin M. Wilson serves as Director of Public Policy and Media Relations for The American Society for Cell Biology. He's worked as the Legislative Director for U.S. Congressman Robert Weygand (D-RI) and as a Legislative Assistant for U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI). He has a BA in Politics and American Government from the Catholic University of America. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org