Senate Appropriations Committee Releases FY2021 LHHS Appropriations Bill with Increased Funding for NIH, NEI

On November 10, the Senate Appropriations Committee released draft legislation that includes all twelve of its Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 appropriations bills, including the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) spending bill, with funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Eye Institute (NEI).

For FY2021, the bill funds the NIH at a level of $43.68 billion, an increase of $2 billion or 4.8 percent over FY2020. Since FY2016 (and including FY2021 proposed) this would be an increase of $13.6 billion or 45%.  The bill also funds the NEI at a level of $850.14 million, an increase of $26.05 million or 3.2% over enacted FY2020.

It is unlikely that the Senate will vote on the legislation, but rather will use it as a starting point with the House of Representatives for negotiating an FY2021 Omnibus bill that will include all 12 appropriations bills. In July, the House passed its FY2021 LHHS spending bill which included $47 billion for the NIH as $42 billion in annual appropriations (an increase of $500 million above the FY2020 enacted level) as well as $5 billion in emergency appropriations available through FY2025 —$2.5 billion of which is designated to the NIH’s Institutes and Centers (I/Cs) for research relief. The NEI would be funded at a level of $884.21 million, an increase of $7.09 million in annual appropriations and another $53.03 million in emergency funding (which can be used through FY2025).

In its statement, NAEVR thanked the Senate leadership for its bill to continue robust investment in the NIH/NEI and urged the chamber to work with the House of Representative’s leaders to act without further delay to complete both the FY2021 appropriations process and emergency funding for the NIH.

Because Congress was unable to pass any of the FY2021 spending bills before the start of the fiscal year on October 1, the government has been operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) which runs through December 11. Congress needs to either pass full-year FY2021 appropriations bills prior to that date or pass another CR and let the 117th Congress, which begins in January, finalize FY2021 appropriations.