January 22, 2004
By a vote of 65 to 28 (with 7 not voting), the Senate today passed the Consolidated Appropriations bill (HR2673) Conference Report, which includes Labor-Health and Human Services-Education (LHHS) appropriations for FY2004. The vote came immediately after the Senate's adoption of cloture, by a vote of 61-32, which limited further debate on the motion. On Tuesday, the cloture motion failed, primarily due to opposition from Democratic Senators.
The HR2673 Conference Report includes an additional appropriated $1 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) over FY2003, and an additional $24 million for the National Eye Institute (NEI) over FY2003. Although both of these amounts will be reduced by an across-the-board .59% cut, the appropriated amount is important in that it forms the basis of calculations for FY2005 appropriations.
NAEVR wishes to thank both the Senate and the House of Representatives (which approved the Conference Report on December 8, 2003). Through their efforts, the NEI budget gets closer to the $711 million budget for the NEI that the eye and vision community has advocated as the amount necessary to advance important discoveries resulting from previous research investments and to pursue new scientific discoveries. It also would bring NEI into parity with the budget doubling that occurred in the budgets of the NIH and several other Institutes from FY1998 to FY2003. Currently, the NEI is in the bottom one-third of all Institutes, in terms of having its budget doubled since FY1998.