HomeWashington Letter2017 ▶ Senate Panel Hears Testimony from NIH Director
Senate Panel Hears Testimony from NIH Director

June 2017

This week, the Senate Labor-Health and Human Services subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Blunt (R-MO), held a hearing on the NIH budget with NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD and other institute directors including National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Director Gary Gibbons, MD, and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci, MD.

Dr. Collins's testimony focused on the following three areas of scientific innovation at NIH:

  • Pursuing treatments for rare diseases, including cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease
  • Supporting the BRAIN Initiative, including Alzheimer's research progress
  • Maintaining the Next Generation Researchers Initiative aimed at increasing support for early and mid-career investigators.

Members of the subcommittee, including Chairman Sen. Blunt, Ranking Member Sen. Murray (D-WA) and Sen. Alexander (R-TN) expressed opposition to the President's fiscal year 2018 budget proposal to cut NIH funding by over 19 percent. Sen. Blunt stated that the subcommittee, which allocates annual NIH funding, "will not take this cut," pointing out that this reduction would cost nearly 90,000 jobs nationwide and $15 billion in lost economic productivity.

Subcommittee members Sens. Murray and Alexander also expressed serious concern about the President's budget proposal to cap grant indirect costs at 10 percent of grant costs overall. Sen. Alexander, remarking on the estimated impact to the University of Tennessee and other institutions, labeled the proposal "a thoroughly bad idea that would not create more research."

Chairman Blunt also asked NIAID Director Dr. Fauci about the impact of the President's budget proposal to eliminate the Fogarty International Center, the NIH's global health research and training institute. Dr. Fauci reported that the Fogarty Center's research is integral, particularly in infectious diseases. He pointed out that all of the researchers in Mali and Nigeria that were able to halt the Ebola virus from spreading in those countries were trained by the Fogarty Center.

The House Labor-Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee will be meeting to determine NIH, CDC and other health program funding later this summer, to be followed by Senate subcommittee action.

Last Reviewed: October 2017