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House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee Passes FY2018 Funding Bill, Including $1.1 Billion NIH Increase

Legislative Update
July 14, 2017

Last evening, the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee passed a draft Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 LHHS spending bill that totals $77.6 billion for HHS programs, a decrease of $542 million below the FY2017 enacted level and $14.5 billion above President Trump’s budget request. With respect to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) it:

  • Funds NIH at $35.2 billion, an increase of $1.1 billion over the FY2017 enacted level of $34.1 billion, which is $8.6 billion above the President’s FY2018 budget request that proposed an NIH cut of $7.2 billion, or 21 percent, from the FY2017 funding level.

  • Maintains the Extramural Salary Cap at Executive Level (EL) II, which is $187,000, as opposed to the President’s proposal to reduce it to the EL V level of $157,000.

  • Includes a provision requiring the NIH to continue reimbursing grantee research institutions for Facilities and Administrative costs. The President’s budget had proposed to limit these indirect costs to 10 percent.

  • Retains the Fogarty International Center and cuts the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) funding (that which supports the Affordable Care Act activities), unlike the Trump budget proposal which would have eliminated Fogarty and moved AHRQ into the NIH.
The Subcommittee passed the bill by a straight party-line vote of 9-6. The bill now moves to full House Appropriations Committee consideration, expected as early as July 19. The approved version of the final bill will include details about National Eye Institute (NEI) funding.

To put the NIH increase in perspective, of the $1.1 billion in increased NIH funding, $943 million is an increase in base NIH funding—or 2.8 percent, which is slightly above the FY2018 biomedical inflation rate of 2.7 percent—and $144 million is an increase funding for the 21st Century Cures Act initiatives, raising it to the $496 million FY2018 funding level designated by the Act.

The bill provides increases for several critical research initiatives, including:

  • $1.8 billion, a $400 million increase, for Alzheimer’s disease research;
  • $336 million, a $76 million increase, for the Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative;
  • $400 million, a $80 million increase, for the All of Us research initiative (formerly called the Precision Medicine Initiative);
  • $300 million for the Cancer Moonshot;
  • $10 million, an $8 million increase, for regenerative medicine research; and
  • $12.6 million for the Gabriella Miller “Kids First” pediatric cancer research initiative.
During the markup, Subcommittee Chair Tom Cole (R-OK) spoke in support of the NIH saying, “We need to continue to build upon the $2 billion increase provided in last year's Omnibus, and indeed $2 billion the year before, and I view this mark set forth today as a floor, not as a ceiling for biomedical research funding. I am hopeful that this number can increase as the process goes on, as indeed it did the last two years we've done this.”

In her Opening Statement, Ranking Member Cong. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said that, “The programs cannot provide increased opportunities if the LHHS bill is starved of funding.” Although noting the NIH funding increase as a bright spot in the bill, she also recognized that the proposed 2.8 percent increase in base funding is about half the size of the increase in each of the past two fiscal years (6-plus percent each year).

Although NAEVR has issued a statement expressing appreciation for the NIH funding increase, the vision community’s FY2018 funding request has been a $2 billion NIH increase and NEI funding of $800 million.