New Democrat Coalition Members Demand More Funding for Disease Research

Apr 6, 2017
Press Release

Today, New Democrat Coalition Members Rep. Susan Davis (CA-53) and Rep. André Carson (IN-07) led a letter to the Committee on Appropriations requesting increased funding for the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) research into diseases that affect millions of Americans. Specifically, the letter calls for funding of at least $2 billion above the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 enacted level for NIH.

More than 50 New Dems signed on to the letter. The New Democrat Coalition has been a champion of increasing the federal investment in finding cures and treatments to diseases that impact families across the country.  Contrary to the short-sighted cuts President Trump’s budget proposed to NIH and other research agencies, New Democrats support increasing investment in NIH to provide valuable, lifesaving, innovative biomedical research.  Our nation depends on NIH’s contributions to find cures and keep our economy competitive and the Coalition looks forward to working with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to advance these priorities.

“Life-saving and life-improving discoveries are regularly made in America and our nation’s investment in medical research fuels those discoveries,” said Congresswoman Susan Davis.  “The President talks about putting America first yet his budgeting for medical research certainly does not reflect that. If America is to continue as a world leader in innovation and medical research robust funding for the NIH will be key to that. Besides medical the breakthroughs, NIH funding supports our economy and thousands of jobs.”

“The NIH is the leading biomedical research entity in the world. With each scientific discovery and each medical breakthrough, its research advances human knowledge, improves our quality of life, and saves lives,” said Congressman André Carson. “With so many medical breakthroughs on the line, now is not the time to be cutting funding. For all of those Americans who are waiting for new cures and treatments, it is critical that we do everything we can to increase our investment in the NIH.”

The text of the letter can be found below and a signed copy of the letter can be found here.

 

 

The Honorable Rodney P. Frelinghuysen                   The Honorable Nita Lowey

Chairman                                                                     Ranking Member

Committee on Appropriations                                                Committee on Appropriations

U.S. House of Representatives                                   U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C., 20515                                           Washington, D.C., 20515

 

The Honorable Tom Cole                                            The Honorable Rosa DeLauro

Chairman                                                                     Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, & Education             Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, & Education

U.S. House of Representatives                                   U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C., 20515                                           Washington, D.C., 20515

 

 

Dear Chairmen Frelinghuysen and Cole and Ranking Members Lowey and Delauro:

 

As Members of Congress who value the critical role played by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in achieving better health outcomes, job creation, education, and economic growth, we respectfully request an FY18 appropriation of $36 billion to reflect the rising costs of biomedical research.  Therefore we respectfully request that the NIH receives an increase of at least $2 billion above Fiscal Year (FY) 2017.  This amount, which accounts for inflation, is the minimum level of funding needed to reflect the rising costs associated with biomedical research.  At a time of unprecedented scientific opportunity, it is critical that the United States make forward-thinking investments that promote medical breakthroughs as well as our international leadership in biomedical research.

 

Over the past decade, our nation’s investment in NIH has often fallen short of what is needed to meet our research needs.  Although a modest increase was included in the 2016 end of the year spending package, Congressional appropriations for our nation’s greatest research institution have failed to keep pace with inflation.  We can already see the wide-ranging impact this has had, with dramatically lower grant application success rates and less money available for new researchers seeking their first grant.  Students are receiving a world-class education at American universities only to graduate and seek research positions in China, India, or other nations that emphasize investment in biomedical research.

 

The 114th Congress made a down payment on continued advancements at the NIH through the passage of the 21st Century Cures law. While that funding will benefit the Precision Medicine and BRAIN initiatives as well as the Cancer Moonshot, this request for discretionary funding is necessary for the NIH to continue as the world’s preeminent medical research institution and our best hope for finding cures, improving treatments, and gaining a better understanding of the complex causes of diseases that affect millions of Americans.  The agency conducts research that is too expensive and risky for private industry to undertake alone but has led to major advancements in our understanding of rare diseases and disorders, as well as historically prevalent diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer, and Parkinson’s. 

 

Critical medical research at NIH is on the cutting edge inspiring American researchers and scientists into vital fields.  Increased funding for the NIH would allow, for example, the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to speed up its development of cell culture-based influenza vaccines. Currently, annual influenza vaccines are developed and manufactured using a 50 year old technology involving chicken eggs.  Switching to a cell culture-based process could shave weeks off the current six to nine month production process. In addition, it would allow for the rapid adjustment to changes in the annual flu, as is happening this year, or in the event of an emergency. Cell culture-based vaccines would be available to people with egg allergies that currently are not able to receive annual flu vaccines.

 

In addition to bettering the lives of millions, NIH funding supports over 400,000 non-federal scientists and technical personnel at 2,500 research universities and facilities nationwide.  Their work drives the demand for medical supplies and research equipment.  NIH funding ripples far beyond its headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, to benefit manufacturers and suppliers in every state in America.

 

In light of the difficult budget decisions you face, we want to stress the importance of NIH as a job creator, driver of economic growth, and a vital tool in curbing our nation’s soaring healthcare costs.  We appreciate your consideration of our request to provide at least $36 billion in funding for NIH in FY 2018.  Please contact Margie Almanza (Rep. McKinley) at margie.almanza@mail.house.gov, Nathan Bennett  (Rep. Carson) at nathan.bennett@mail.house.gov, Matt Weiner (Rep. Susan Davis) at matt.weiner@mail.house.gov, or Jamie Matese (Rep. King) at jamie.matese@mail.house.gov with any further questions.

 

Sincerely,

 

David B. McKinley, P.E.                                            Susan Davis

                          

André Carson                                                              Peter T. King