NAEVR Statement on FY2023 Omnibus

(Washington, DC) On December 29th, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, a $1.7 trillion Omnibus Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Appropriations bill which combined all FY2023 spending bills into one package. The signing comes after Congress passed two short-term Continuing Resolutions that extended 2022 funding through December 30, 2022. Congress finalized the spending bill before adjourning for the year with the Senate approving the bill on December 22nd with a 68-29 vote and the House approving the bill on December 23rd with a 225-201 vote.

The Omnibus provides a 10% increase in defense spending and a 5.5% increase in non-defense spending. The package includes increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Eye Institute (NEI).

After analyzing the budget, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) is pleased to see that the bill provides a level of $47.459 billion for NIH, a $2.5 billion increase (+5.6%) over the comparable FY 2022 level, and includes $896.549 million for NEI, an increase of $32.631 million or approximately 3.8%, which is higher than the 3.2% that had been approved in the House-passed bill earlier this year.

“NAEVR is thankful that Congress has increased NIH funding for the eighth consecutive year showing the continued recognition of the value that investment in medical research has for patients,” said Dan Ignaszewski, Executive Director of NAEVR. “NAEVR is pleased to see the NEI received an increase but recognizes that it still falls short of inflation-adjusted investment over the past decade and that for the eighth year in a row, NEI has received only the base-level increase provided to all institutes.”

In addition to the investments in NIH and NEI, the bill authorizes the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) separately within the NIH and provides $1.5 billion (a $500 million or 50% increase over FY 2022) available through FY 2025 through the HHS Office of the Secretary in FY 2023. As in FY 2022, the Secretary would have the authority to transfer the funding to NIH or another HHS agency within 30 days of the bill’s enactment. The authorization would continue to require the Secretary to publish in the Federal Register within 90 days of enactment of the law a notice outlining which NIH policies ARPA-H will be exempt from, and within 180 days, to transfer the current functions of ARPA-H as currently configured to the new framework authorized in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023.

The Omnibus also includes funding for the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Vision Research Program (VRP) through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) at a level of $20 million, the 5th year that the VRP is funded at that level. “Vision trauma research is more important than ever as we seek to maintain and enhance military preparedness,” Ignaszewski continued. “With vision trauma representing the second most common injury among active military personnel and seeing a significant number of ocular injuries out of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, NAEVR continues to advocate for the need to increase funding for vision trauma research within the CDMRP.”