Legislative Updates

Senate Appropriations Committee Advances All Twelve FY2019 Spending Bills with Approval of Each the Defense and LHHS Bills—the Latter including a $2 B NIH Increase

Legislative Update
June 28, 2018

On June 28, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported out each the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Defense spending bill and the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) spending bill—which had been reported out of their respective Subcommittees on June 26. Noting that this will have been the first time since 1989 that the Senate has reported out all of its spending bills prior to the July 4 recess, Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) stated that,

“The Senate Appropriations Committee has completed its work on the 2019 bills in a deliberate and timely manner with strong bipartisan support across the board. I believe that we can all agree that, regardless of political party, this reinvigorated and transparent process reflects the will of the American people. Our return to regular order has been facilitated by a commitment to reject poison pill riders and authorizing provisions. I thank Vice Chairman Leahy for his steadfast support.”
Regarding the FY2019 LHHS spending bill, during the June 26 markup, Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) noted that it was the third year that the Subcommittee developed a bipartisan bill, and that with the anticipated June 28 full Appropriations Committee approval, would be the first time in seven years that it would be taken up by the full Senate [prior years was reported out of Subcommittee and conferenced in an Omnibus spending bill].

The Senate’s LHHS spending bill includes $179.3 billion in discretionary funding for the programs and agencies funded, an increase of $2.2 billion over the FY2018 enacted level, and a total of $90.1 billion for HHS programs. In comparison, the House allocation for the programs and agencies funded by the bill was flat at $177.1 billion—essentially the same as the FY2018 enacted level.

Due to its higher allocation than the House and the Subcommittee’s bipartisan support for biomedical research, the Senate LHHS bill funds the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at $39.08 billion, an increase of $2 billion or 5.4 percent over the FY2018 enacted level of $37.08 billion, and includes $711 million in funding for special initiatives, per the 21st Century Cures Act. Chairman Blunt emphasized that, starting with the FY2016 appropriations cycle, the Subcommittee has increased funding for NIH by $9 billion or 20 percent.

NEI is funded at $796.96 million, a $24.6 million or 3.2 percent increase over enacted FY2018. The bill’s Report Language states that, “Every Institute and Center receives an increase above fiscal year 2018 to continue investments in innovative research that will advance fundamental knowledge and speed the discoveries of new therapies, diagnostics, and preventive measures to improve the health of all Americans.”

By comparison, the House LHHS bill funds the NIH at $38.3 billion, an increase of $1.25 billion or 3.3 percent, over the FY2018 enacted level of $37.08 billion, and NEI at $781.5 million, a $9.2 million or 1.2 percent increase over the FY2018 enacted level of $772.3 million. The House Appropriations Committee has yet to report out the LHHS Subcommittee’s bill, which is not expected until after the July 4 recess.

In both the FY2019 House and Senate bills, Congress has rejected President Trump’s budget proposals regarding NIH funding, policy, and structure. NAEVR has prepared a document that details each proposal and concomitant House and Senate action.

NAEVR has issued a statement commending the Senate appropriators for the NIH and NEI funding increases—especially for the latter in its 50th anniversary year.