Lawmakers propose 7% increase in NIH funding 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Congress has proposed (PDF) increasing the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH's) annual budget by 7%. The proposal, which would give the NIH far more than was requested, is part of two packages filed in the House of Representatives to secure the funding of the government for 2020.

Going into the 2020 budget process, the NIH’s requested funding stood at around $34 billion. A Senate spending committee suggested the NIH could ultimately receive far more than that amount in September when it proposed giving the institute $42 billion to enable it to spend more on research into Alzheimer’s disease and pediatric cancers.

Congress failed to complete the appropriations process before the end of the government’s fiscal year in September, leading it to keep funding flowing through two continuing resolutions. Now, with the second continuing resolution nearing its end, Congress is moving to wrap up the process.

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The top-line details of the proposal for the NIH are in line with the budget put forward by the Senate spending committee earlier in the year. Under the current plan, the NIH is set to receive just under $42 billion, as compared to just over that amount under the Senate proposal. The proposal is 7% above the NIH’s 2019 budget and more than 20% above the requested amount for 2020.

Some therapeutic areas are set to benefit more than others from the budget. Notably, the current proposal retains the focus on Alzheimer’s research, which is set to receive a $350 million funding boost if the budget is passed. The total proposed budget for Alzheimer’s research is $2.8 billion.

Other areas of targeted spending proposed by the Senate are also in the current draft. That means President Donald Trump's Childhood Cancer Data Initiative is in line to receive $50 million. The sum is the start of a planned $500 million, decadelong investment in pediatric cancer research at the NIH.

The question now is whether the proposal will be passed in its current form. The House may start to consider the legislation as early as today as it works to belatedly get a finalized budget in place. 

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