Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) initiated an effort to secure support for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) early in the appropriations process in what is expected to be a year of severe budget cuts. To help them in their effort, ASH and others in the research community launched a grassroots campaign to ask senators to support funding for the NIH in fiscal year (FY) 2012. As a result, 41 senators, including seven Republicans, signed a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging support for biomedical research at NIH. This strong bipartisan show of support for biomedical research is crucial as pressure increases by the Republican leadership in Congress to cut federal spending.
Meanwhile, the House is proceeding with efforts to achieve the goal of having at least nine of the 12 spending bills that fund federal programs and departments considered on the House floor by August 5, when the House departs for a month-long recess. The Labor-HHS-Education bill, which establishes annual funding levels for federal public health programs including NIH, is tentatively scheduled to be considered by the subcommittee on July 26 and by the full committee on August 2. House appropriators will be forced to work within the parameters of allocations adopted in May that cut $18.2 billion (11.6 percent) from FY 2011 spending levels for the Labor-HHS-Education bill. This means that all programs funded via this bill, including the NIH, remain at risk of sustaining further cuts in spending in FY 2012.
The Society thanks those who visited the ASH Advocacy Center and took action to urge their senators to sign the Casey-Burr letter. As Congress continues to formulate the details of the FY 2012 budget and pressure mounts to cut federal spending, funding for the NIH is in increasing jeopardy. All Members of Congress need to hear from their constituents about the need to adequately fund NIH. To contact your representative and senators quickly and easily, utilize the email template offered in our online ASH Advocacy Center. We encourage you to personalize the letter, providing examples of why NIH funding is important to you and your research, and in as little as three clicks of a computer mouse you can send a message to Congress. ASH strongly encourages all Grassroots Network members to participate in future campaigns.
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