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Congress Begins Work on FY2008 NIH/NEI Appropriations; “Dear Colleague” Letters Urge Funding Increases

Legislative Update
May 10, 2007

As Congress begins work on FY2008 Appropriations legislation, Congressional supporters in the House and Senate have been circulating letters to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Appropriations committees, urging a 6.7% increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health.

On April 26th, a letter co-authored by Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Richard Burr (R-NC), and signed by 48 Senators, both Democrats and Republicans to Senate Appropriations Chairman Robert Byrd (D-WV), Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-MS), as well as leading NIH champions Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Arlen Specter (R-PA), requested a 6.7% increase, citing the NIH Reauthorization legislation passed last year, which authorized even higher increases for the NIH, as an indicator of congressional support for increased funding.

On April 27th, a letter co-authored by Reps. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Dave Reichert (R-WA), with 182 signatures, also with bipartisan support, was sent to House Appropriations Committee Chair David Obey (D-WI) and Ranking Member Jerry Lewis (R-CA), also urging a 6.7% increase in NIH funding.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is holding a series of hearings to which all NIH Directors are being invited to appear to discuss the work being done at their institutes. NEI Director Paul Sieving is expected to testify within the next two weeks.