Congress Ignores Trump, Proposes $2 Billion Boost to NIH Budget

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York speak to reporters about the Congressional Budget Office projection that 14 million people would lose health coverage under the House Republican bil

J. Scott Applewhite AP

The bipartisan agreement is in sharp contrast to President Donald Trump's proposed fiscal cuts to both the NIH and EPA, although it is in agreement with his desires for increased military spending and infrastructure.

Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, a Republican who chairs the appropriations subcommittee that oversees NIH funding and who sits on the budget committee, said funding medical research is something Republicans and Democrats agree on easily. Republicans, who control Congress and the White House, were particularly wary of a shutdown on their watch. Funding had been frozen at 2016 levels until Congress passed the budget resolution at the eleventh hour yesterday.

In what feels like rare good news from Washington, on this week Congress struck a deal to boost funding to the National Institutes of Health by $US2 billion ($2.7 billion) over the next five months, effectively rejecting President Trump's plan to slash the agency's budget for the current fiscal year. Based on an advanced copy of America's budget for the 2017 financial year, it looks like there has been an actual increase in science funding across the board, and rather wonderfully, Trump's requests to have it cut have been comprehensively ignored.

"From our perspective this is a great package, so we can put [fiscal year 2017] behind us and move on with our lives", says Jennifer Zeitzer, director of legislative relations at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in Rockville, Maryland. The $2 billion funding increase for NIH comes as a $1 trillion spending agreement, which funds the government through the end of September.

In addition to the hike in NIH finding, the omnibus bill includes $5.7 billion for the National Cancer Institute; $1.39 billion for Alzheimer's disease research; $463 million to push the search for new antibiotics for resistant infections; and $320 million for the Precision Medicine Initiative.

Instead most of the science agencies that Trump wanted to cut, including NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF), received at least a small increase. The bill includes support for the Pre-Aerosol, Clouds, and Ocean Ecosystem satellite mission that Trump wants to eliminate. That includes $275 million for a mission to Jupiter's moon Europa, including a lander.

It also sets aside $32 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Trump stopped waiting for answers and proposed the above-mentioned budget cuts. The proposed NSF budget is essentially flat, at $7.5 billion.

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