Washington Update

Inside (the) Beltway Scoop

By: Ellen Kuo
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
Senate Appropriations Committee Releases Funding Bills

In late July, the Senate Appropriations Committee released its draft funding bills for fiscal year (FY) 2023. These bills do not have the support of Republicans, however. The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill provided the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with $47 billion and another $1 billion for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) that would be made available until September 30, 2025. This is a $2 billion increase over the FY 2022 enacted level, and the larger medical and scientific community released a statement quickly thereafter.  According to the committee, there is at least a 3.1 percent increase for nearly every NIH Institute and Center, ensuring there is no erosion of resources due to inflation and a continuation of year-over-year increases to NIH of more than $15 billion (50 percent) since FY 2015 under both Democratic and Republican leadership.

As for ARPA–H, it is to be physically located away from the main NIH campus, must use a transparent and competitive process to determine the location site for the new standalone agency, and should avoid hiring NIH staff. Instead, the preference is to hire from industry, academia, and think tanks. The agency would also be required to provide quarterly briefings to the committee on its establishment process, hiring, and scientific priorities and progress.

The Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies funding bill provided $10.3 billion for the National Science Foundation, which is $1.5 billion above the FY 2022 enacted level. The VA Medical and Prosthetic Research program would receive a historic level of investment for research of $916 million, or $34 million more than FY 2022 enacted. This supports ongoing and new research in areas such as toxic exposures, traumatic brain injury, and precision oncology. The secretary of Veterans Affairs must also ensure that sufficient amounts appropriated are available for prosthetic research specifically for female veterans and toxic exposure research. The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative received $455 million or a $10 million increase over FY 2022 enacted with priority areas of research, including an emphasis on conventional (classical) plant and animal breeding. There was $8.1 billion for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, or a $620 million increase over enacted. Reconciling these recommended funding levels with the House Appropriations Committee’s funding bills will be the next step, with the need for a continuing resolution if that does not occur before the end of FY 2022 on September 30.