Washington Update

Senate Draft Appropriations Bills Includes Provisions on Animal Research

By: Naomi Charalambakis
Thursday, August 12, 2021

Last week, several Senate Appropriations Subcommittees released draft appropriations bills and reports that provide funding for various federal agencies for fiscal year (FY) 2022. The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon VA) and Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies (Ag-FDA) Subcommittees—which fund the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), respectively—included language regarding biomedical research with animals.

Similar to last year’s appropriations package, the Senate MilCon draft bill prohibits funding for VA research with canines, felines, and nonhuman primates unless the VA Secretary provides written approval of studies with these species. In contrast to the House version, the Senate draft included nonhuman primates in the list of species that should not receive federal funding. Additionally, Senate appropriators request that the VA Secretary submit a report to House and Senate Appropriations Committee describing the nature of VA’s research with canine, felines, and nonhuman primates and justification for funding approval, among other items. Consistent with last year’s request, the final provision of the draft requests a plan outlining how the Department will eliminate or reduce research with canines, felines, and nonhuman primates over the next five years; the Five-Year Plan released by VA in June addresses this recommendation.

To accompany the Ag-FDA funding proposal, Senate appropriators released their report outlining several recommendations regarding animal research and welfare.  The Committee requests the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)—the enforcement arm of the Department—to strengthen efforts to address Animal Welfare Act violations. In particular, the Committee directs APHIS to ensure consistent, thorough, unannounced inspections of USDA-registered research facilities and verify that all violations and compliance failures be documented in inspection reports.

House and Senate appropriators will now proceed with conference deliberations to issue a compromise bill that can move forward for full approval by both chambers and final signature by the president.