Senate Passes Economic Stimulus Bill with $10 Billion for NIH

Senate Passes Economic Stimulus Bill with $10 Billion for NIH

Legislative Update
February 10, 2009

Today, the Senate passed its version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (House Resolution 1) by a vote of 61 to 37. Republican Senators Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Arlen Specter (Pennsylvania) were the only members of their party to vote for passage. The Senate voted on final passage after agreeing to a motion (by a vote of 61 to 37) to waive the Budget Act on a substitute amendment, which reflects the spending cuts and tax revisions brokered by Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Senator Collins.

The Nelson-Collins amendment retains $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which reflects an earlier amendment-passed on February 3 and sponsored by Senator Specter, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL)-that added $6.5 billion to the $3.5 billion NIH funding level already in the Senate bill. In summary, the $10 billion for NIH in the Senate bill reflects:

  • $9.2 billion for scientific research
  • $300 million to the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) for shared instrumentation and other capital equipment
  • $500 million for NIH intramural buildings and facilities

In addition, both the Senate and House bills also transfer $400 million from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to NIH for comparative effectiveness research, which may subsequently be transferred by the NIH Director to the Institutes/Centers and NIH Common Fund.

The Senate must now conference its bill with the House bill. President Obama has asked Congress to pass a bill this week before it adjourns for the Presidents’ Day recess, which begins on February 16.

In January 14 comments to President-Elect Obama, NAEVR urged that the economic stimulus serve as a down-payment on the doubling of science and technology investment over the next ten years. NAEVR proposed an economic stimulus and FY2009 appropriations package totaling $10 billion, as Research!America has estimated that at least $8.6 billion is necessary to restore the NIH’s purchasing power lost over the past six funding cycles.