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House Budget Committee Votes out Budget Resolution on March 17; House Floor Debate Expected to Begin March 24

Legislative Update
March 18, 2004

On Wednesday, March 17, the House Budget Committee voted out its Budget Resolution by 24-19, primarily along party lines. Although NIH/Institute numbers are not specified, sources indicate that it assumes the President's FY2005 budget proposal numbers for these programs (i.e. a 2.9% increase for NEI to $672 million, and a 2.6% increase for NIH to $28.8 billion). The House floor debate is scheduled to begin Wednesday, March 24, and is expected to be highly contentious, primarily about the larger issues of budget enforcement. At this time, we do not anticipate any specific amendments coming to the House floor that deal with NIH funding as there were in the Senate floor debate (see March 12 Legislative Update regarding the Specter Amendment that adds $1.3 billion to the $700+ million in the President's FY2005 budget proposal for the NIH), although the Democratic leadership plans to introduce an alternative budget plan that, over ten years, balances the budget and increases funding for education and health care.

NAEVR will monitor House floor developments while working with coalition partners to attempt to keep the Specter amendment's NIH increase in the House/Senate conference. We will also be developing NAEVR written testimony to be submitted to the hearing file for the April 1 Senate LHHS Subcommittee hearing (to begin at 9:30 am in Dirksen 106 and featuring NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni and all Institute Directors as witnesses).

The larger issue of medical research is the cover story in the Sunday, March 21, edition of Parade Magazine. Entitled, "The Quiet Heroes," the article highlights recent important findings from basic medical research. Prepared in cooperation with Research!America, the article also encourages readers to visit the Research!America Web site at www.researchamerica.org to advocate on behalf of medical research funding. NAEVR is a Research!America member and works in concert with the organization to highlight the value and cost-effectiveness of basic and translational medical research.