House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee Approves FY2024 Spending Bill that Cuts NIH $2.8 Billion, Flat Funds NEI

Today, the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee passed its Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 spending bill.  The markup was very contentious, with Democrats strongly criticizing the bill for its severe cuts to social programs.  The bill passed by a voice vote, clearing it for full Committee consideration. Republican leaders have indicated their desire to finish work on all appropriations bills before the start of the August recess. The bill would fund the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at a level of $44.6 billion, a cut of $2.8 billion compared with the final FY2023 spending levels, or 6%. The National Eye Institute (NEI) would be funded at a level of $896.5 million, the same amount as in FY2023.

Subcommittee Chair Robert Aderholt (R-AL) opened the meeting by saying that the bill under consideration is a ‘first step in restoring fiscal responsibility’ to the federal budget after years of what he called excessive federal stimulus spending. He defended the funding levels in the bill, which total $60 billion in cuts to major social spending programs under the jurisdiction of the subcommittee.

Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), who also serves as Ranking Member of the full Appropriations Committee, made extensive remarks highlighting the deep cuts that the bill makes to a wide range of social programs, calling them ‘shameful’, and that she is ‘horrified’ by the bill’s cuts, notably to education programs that would result in the elimination of over 220,000 teaching positions around the country. She also blasted cuts to medical research programs, which she stated would jeopardize health care for all Americans.

Of the $2.8 billion reduction in the NIH funding level, most of the proposed cuts are attributed to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which would be cut $1.5 billion, the Office of the Director, which would be cut $573 million, and the NIH Innovation Fund (21st Century Cures Act) which would be cut $678 million. Almost all the Institutes were flat-funded, with a couple of exceptions. In the House’s proposed budget, none of the individual Institutes would see their funding increase over FY2023. In addition to the cut of $2.8 billion to the NIH base, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health (ARPA-H) would be cut by an additional $1 billion.

NAEVR, along with the larger medical research advocacy community,  had requested FY2024 NIH funding of $50.924 billion. NAEVR had asked Congress to fund the NEI at a level of $975 million, an increase of $78.8 million over FY2023.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has yet to take up its companion LHHS funding bill.   The 302(b) allocations to the Senate LHHS subcommittee is substantially larger than that given to the House subcommittee, giving the Senate more funding for its bill.