The Ghosts of NIH Funding Past: Misleading GOP Bill Doesn’t Help Research, Continues Republicans’ Harmful Cuts

For Immediate Release:

December 11, 2013

House Republicans want Americans to believe they are interested in adequately funding the National Institutes of Health (NIH), but their record tells a different story.  Majority Leader Cantor’s bill being considered today, the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act (H.R. 2019), does not actually provide the needed support and funding that the NIH requires.  The NIH provides life-saving research and medical assistance that helps millions of Americans, but Republicans’ latest messaging bill fails to make up for Republicans’ ongoing extreme funding cuts over the past couple of years.  Since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in 2011, they have created a long track record of underfunding, destabilizing and weakening the NIH, not helping it.  Here’s a look at some of the ghosts of House Republican’s NIH funding past:

SEQUESTRATION

The Republican policy of across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester have had a drastic impact on medical research and scientific advancement:

  • Sequestration cut $1.55 billion from the NIH budget in 2013
  • As a result of the sequester, the NIH funded more than 700 fewer competitive research grants in 2013 than in 2012
  • The sequester cuts are more than 100 times the amount of proposed funding authorized in H.R. 2019

THE EXTREME RYAN BUDGET

Republicans’ spending priorities as outlined in the Ryan Budget have also proposed major cuts to health, research, and medicine programs, including the NIH:

  • Since Republicans took the majority in 2011, the NIH budget has been cut by $4.2 billion, a 13 percent reduction when adjusted for inflation  
  • The Fiscal Year 2014 spending allocations adopted by Republicans for the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee included a 22% reduction from the fiscal year 2013 enacted level
  • These cuts would reduce these programs to 19% below the post-sequester level of funding, four times larger than 2013 sequester cuts
  • The spending reductions proposed by the Republican spending bill, if applied evenly across all accounts, would result in a $6.7 billion reduction at NIH
  • Pediatric research at the NIH alone will see $800 million in cuts, or a 22% reduction from the Fiscal Year 2013 pre-sequester level, 61 times the authorization of H.R. 2019

GOP GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

During the 16-day Republican government shutdown, government agencies faced closures, decreased staff, and uncertainty, including work at the NIH:

  • During the shutdown, hundreds of patients were prevented from enrolling in NIH clinical trials
  • With the shutdown during grant-making season, millions of dollars for new research was suspended and delayed

If Republicans are serious about providing the much-needed support for life-saving research at the NIH, they should adopt a responsible budget that provides adequate funding for NIH programs and ends the harmful policy of the sequester.  The Ghost of Christmas Past taught Scrooge a valuable lesson about the importance of changing his ways, and hopefully Republicans can learn from their past and make real and meaningful steps to support the NIH.

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