Senate funding bill boosts NIH funding, cuts CDC and TB programs

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Bipartisan effort preserves medical research at Defense Department

The U.S. Senate Appropriations committee approved a funding increase of $2 billion for the National Institutes of Health and a cut to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today as part of their approval of the Labor, Health and Human Services and Related Agencies appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017.

At the same time, it delivers cuts to programs addressing public health threats. The bill cuts $118 million from the CDC’s current funding level. Cuts to CDC funding are especially troubling given the diversion of funding from a number of CDC programs to Zika virus responses. And, while data released this year show the number of tuberculosis cases in the United States increasing for the first time in decades, the bill cuts the domestic TB program by $5 million from its current level.

A portion of the increase in NIH funding will be allocated based on determinations made by NIH Director Francis Collins so it remains to be see whether HIV, tuberculosis and other global health research will enjoy increased funding. Despite a $1 billion increase in NIH funding for the current fiscal year, HIV research funding did not increase. The increase in NIH funding includes an additional $50 million over fiscal year 2016 funding to combat antibiotic resistance, to total $463 million.

The House funding committee has yet to act on its own version of the  bill, and funding levels for NIH and other federal programs will not be finalized until later in the year.

Earlier this week, the Senate approved an amendment to a Department of Defense bill that eliminated language that would have jeopardized funding for much of the medical research currently funded through the Department of Defense, including research related to tuberculosis, HIV vaccine development, antimicrobial resistance and other infectious disease research.

Stay tuned to Science Speaks for further information and analysis as the annual federal budget process evolves.

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