06.22.17

Vice Chairman Leahy Statement On The FY 18 Budget Request For The National Institutes Of Health

Thank you, Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Murray, for holding this important hearing today, and for the opportunity to make a few brief remarks.  Welcome, Dr. Collins. 

Unfortunately, the President’s proposed budget displays a fundamental lack of understanding of the role of government of, by, and for the people, in supporting the middle class, lifting up the most vulnerable among us, and serving our values and interests as a nation.  Sequestration has had devastating consequences for both defense and non-defense programs; consequences that will last a generation or more.  The Trump budget would only extend and deepen those problems.

Among the deep budget cuts proposed by this administration, those that have perhaps drawn the most bipartisan opposition are the reductions to the National Institutes of Health.  I commend the Chair and Ranking Member of this subcommittee for their dedication and efforts to bolster the NIH budget in recent spending bills.  

This budget, however, would turn that progress upside-down.  The Trump budget slashes NIH resources by $7.2 billion – or 21 percent.  This would be the lowest NIH budget since fiscal year 2002.  Medical research cannot be turned on and off.  Scientists don’t hit “pause” on studies and continue the research when Federal funding resumes.  The ups and downs of the budget – based on the whims of an anti-science, no-nothingism administration – are particularly harmful to the medical research field.  Budding scientists and researchers might decide to seek other career paths, leaving fewer scientists and fewer discoveries. 

Not only would President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to NIH have a chilling effect on medical research nationwide, this budget also includes a cap on indirect costs granted to universities and other entities that conduct research.  These funds literally keep the lights on in laboratories, making research possible.  The University of Vermont, which receives millions of dollars in NIH grants each year, recently wrote to Director Mulvaney and Secretary Price and noted, “[i]t is highly unlikely that UVM would be able to sustain its research programs in the face of these two proposed cuts.”  I ask that a full copy of this letter be included in the record. 

We must prove to the world that we will stand firm in our commitment to medical research for generations to come.  Congress must oppose the Trump administration’s reckless efforts to undermine medical research.  As Vice Chairman of this Committee, I am committed to working across the aisle to put forward spending bills that not only retain but advance these commitments.

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