Legislative Update FY24: Advocating for Vision Research Funding

Last week marked Chairman Tom Cole's (R-OK) first full week as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee after Chair Kay Granger (R-TX) unexpectedly stepped down. Since assuming the chairmanship, he has already restructured several Appropriations subcommittees (with more changes expected) and commenced work on the FY25 funding process. Chairman Cole has been a long-time supporter of NIH and research funding, and as Chair will have more control over topline numbers for the subcommittees. In addition to getting work started on FY25, he has also communicated an interest in leveraging historical bipartisan approaches to navigate the current political landscape. Drawing parallels to past bipartisan reforms, he has advocated for a fiscal commission to address national debt and ensure the sustainability of social safety net programs. Amidst partisan tensions, Chair Cole has emphasized the importance of bipartisan cooperation to achieve budgetary balance (it’s unknown how this approach will be received by some hard-liners and a dwindling republican majority with the recent early retirements of several lawmakers). 

Additionally, the House Labor, Health and Human services (L-HHS) Subcommittee has set a deadline for FY25 Outside Witness Testimony for May 3 (instructions can be accessed here). Meanwhile, the Senate L-HHS Subcommittee has released guidance regarding FY25 member requests). NAEVR will be submitting testimony to each committee and will be making a template available to members and stakeholders interested in submitting their testimony in support of NEI. 

On April 16, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-H held a hearing on President Biden's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) budget request for FY25. Chair Baldwin (D-WI) and Ranking Member Capito (R-WV) each emphasized their support for the Administration’s request for biomedical research and emphasized support for multiple priorities. Senator Capito closed her opening statement explaining that FY25 will be another challenging budget year with limited resources but hopeful for continued bipartisan support for shared priorities. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Beccera provided testimony emphasizing priorities in biomedical research and discussions and questions throughout the hearing from Members focused on medical research and the importance of NIH, women’s health, and gun violence prevention, with significant emphasis on the Cancer Moonshot initiative, projects at the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), and advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning at NIH.