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House Appropriations Committee Approves 302(b) Allocations For All Twelve FY2020 Spending Bills and the FY2020 LHHS Spending Bill with NIH/NEI Increases

Legislative Update
May 9, 2019

On May 8, the House Appropriations Committee (HAC) voted 30-22 in favor of adopting the 302(b) allocations that set the spending limits for the twelve Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills.

The HAC also approved the FY2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) spending bill that had been marked up by the LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee on April 30. The bill, approved 30-23 along party lines, is the first of the twelve spending bills to move through the full Committee, and it is the first time in many years that the LHHS bill has moved first. According to sources, House leadership plans floor action in June, with the LHHS bill paired with the Defense Appropriations bill, a strategy successfully used in the FY2019 appropriations process since the Defense bill is considered a must pass.”

In addition to the $2 billion, or 5.1 percent increase over FY2019, in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding to a level of $41.08 billion, the bill also includes a $39 million, or 5 percent increase over FY2019, in National Eye Institute (NEI) funding to a level of $835.5 million. The bill's Report Language made a specific statement about funding for the Institutes and Centers (I/Cs), such as the NEI, as follows:

"In addition, the bill includes sufficient funding to provide an across-the-board increase of approximately five percent for all I/Cs. The Committee is concerned that Congress has moved too far in the direction of targeted funding for specific initiatives, which has resulted in less funding being available for foundational research that may lead to unforeseeable scientific breakthroughs. This bill maximizes the across-the-board increase for all I/Cs, thereby ensuring a significant boost for the best peer-reviewed research across all scientific disciplines."”

In NAEVR's May 1 statement commending the LHHS Subcommittee for increases that reflect growth above biomedical inflation, as well as in its April 4 written testimony to the Subcommittee, NAEVR has emphasized the need for Congress to rebuild the NEI's budget and restore its purchasing power, which had been eroded by flat budgets and lack of inflationary increases prior to the funding increases in fiscal years 2016 through 2019.