Trump signs the Omnibus spending bill; NIH to get $2 billion funding bump


US President Donald Trump signed the bipartisan omnibus spending bill on Friday, May 5 after weeks of negotiations. The legislation detailing $1 trillion in fiscal year 2017 spending, includes $34 billion for the National Institutes of Health giving it a $2 billion funding boost. The bill marks a sharp rejection of President Trump’s original proposal to cut $1.2 billion from medical research agency in the current fiscal year.

This bill will also provide Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) with $306 million in funding, reflecting a $15 million increase from the year 2016.

Early in March, US President Donald Trump unveiled the budget blueprint suggesting a slash in domestic programs so as to boost funding for defense programs. To offset the increase in defense spending, Trump proposed $54 billion in cuts to large parts of the federal government and popular programs.

Several parts of the budget raised concern among Republicans of which a cut of 16.2% or $5.8 billion from the National Institute of Health (NIH) was a major concern. The biomedical research community depends on NIH for their livelihood, work product, recruitment and retention of scientists. The budget cut for the agency was hence unnerving to many lawmakers.

On April 30, the members of Congress reached a bipartisan deal for government spending until September this year that included an additional $2 billion bump over current appropriations for the National Institutes of Health.

“The omnibus is in sharp contrast to President Trump’s dangerous plans to steal billions from lifesaving medical research, instead increasing funding for the NIH by $2 billion,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

According to STAT News, $400 million of that amount will be directed toward Alzheimer’s research and another $476 million will go to the National Cancer Institute. It boosts spending on two of former President Barack Obama’s projects – BRAIN initiative and the Precision Medicine Initiative. The BRAIN initiative gets an increase of $110 million to support work mapping the human brain. The Precision Medicine Initiative which seeks to recruit volunteers for genetic testing and health tracking gets a boost of $120 million.

An increase in NIH’s budget for 2 years in a row since the 21st Century Cures Act is a clear signal that all the leaders – Democrat, Republican, House and Senate – prioritize funding for medical research.