Senate Passes FY2019 Defense/LHHS Minibus Bill with a Nearly $30 M Increase in Vision Research Funding

Senate Passes FY2019 Defense/LHHS Minibus Bill with A Nearly $30 M Increase in Vision Research Funding

Legislative Update
September 19, 2018

On September 18, by a vote of 93-7, the Senate approved the Conference Report for H.R, 6157, the ‘minibus’ appropriations bill that combines the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) spending bills. The conference report now goes to the House, which is expected to take up the measure the week of September 24 when it returns from its recess. Upon passage, the bill would be sent to the President to sign prior to the start of FY2019 on October 1. The President has yet to sign the first of the FY2019 minibuses H.R. 5895, passed September 13 and which includes the Energy-Water, Military Construction-Veterans Administration, and Legislative Branch spending bills that was sent to him last week.

Congress has signaled an intent to also address a third minibus, which includes the Agriculture-Food and Drug Administration, Financial Services, Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, and Interior-Environment spending bills, but it is unclear whether it will be finalized before October 1. Congress will fund any government programs not finalized prior to the start of FY2019 with a Continuing Resolution (CR) that expires on December 7.

The FY2019 Defense/LHHS minibus bill increases vision research by nearly $30 million as follows:

  • The bill funds the Department of Defense's (DOD) Vision Research Program (VRP) at $20 million, which is $5 million greater than in each FY2017 and FY2018 and the first time that the program has been funded at this level.
  • The bill increases National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding by $2 billion, or 5.4 percent over FY2018, to $39.08 billion, and the National Eye Institute (NEI) funding by $24.2 million, or 3.1 percent over FY2018, to $796.5 million.

NAEVR has issued a statement commending the Senate for its action and encouraging the House to finalize the bill before the end of FY2018.

The Senate's action comes less than a week after the 6th annual Rally for Medical Research Advocacy Day, which brought hundreds of researchers from around the country to advocate with their elected representatives for robust and sustained NIH funding. As in past years, NAEVR served as a Bronze Sponsor for the event, and Executive Director James Jorkasky escorted a group of New York advocates to the Hill.