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Congress Passes FY2010 Omnibus Appropriations Bill that Includes Funding Increases for NIH, NEI

Legislative Update
December 14, 2009

Yesterday the Senate gave final approval to a Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 omnibus spending package (H.R. 3288), comprised of six remaining spending bills, including the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) appropriations bill (H.R. 3293) which funds the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Eye Institute (NEI). The largely party line vote was 57-35, with 8 abstentions.

The action followed last Thursday’s passage of the bill by House, by a vote of 221-202, clearing it for signature by the President. The government is currently funded by a Continuing Resolution that expires December 18.

The legislation includes $31.0 billion for NIH, a $691.8 million (2.3 percent) increase over the FY2009 omnibus, and $250 million more than the President's request. The House-approved bill had included $31.3 billion for NIH, while the Senate committee-approved bill had included $30.8 billion.

The conference bill funds NEI at $707.04 million, an 18.54 million, or 2.7 percent increase, above the FY2009 funding level of $688.5 million. The House-approved bill had a $713.1 million funding level for NEI ($24.6 million, or 3.57 percent increase) and the Senate committee-approved bill had a $700.2 million funding level ($11.7 million, or 1.7 percent increase).

Still awaiting final Congressional passage is the FY2010 Defense Appropriations bill, (H.R. 3326), which maintains the dedicated Peer Reviewed Medical Research-Vision line item and funds it at $5 million, an increase of $1 million or 25 percent over FY2009. The Senate passed its bill on October 6, although the Senate passed its bill without language regarding PRMR-Vision. Democratic leaders in the House have stated their intention to pass the bill this week, before the CR expires, and House and Senate conferees have been meeting to resolve differences between their respective bills.

Congress plans to use the FY2010 Defense Appropriations bill as the basis of a second omnibus bill to finalize any other must-pass legislation before it adjourns. Currently, the Senate is engaged in debate on healthcare reform legislation, which Congress also intends to finalize before the recess.