Washington Update

Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Report Includes Animal Research Provisions

By: Naomi Charalambakis
Thursday, October 28, 2021

On October 18, the Senate Appropriations Committee released drafts of the remaining nine fiscal year 2022 spending bills that set funding recommendations for a broad range of federal programs and agencies (see “Inside (the Beltway) Scoop"). The Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS) Subcommittee, responsible for allocating funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), included numerous provisions related to animal research in its explanatory statement.

In both House and Senate appropriations report language, appropriators direct NIH to outline a plan on how the agency will improve accurate collection and reporting of NIH projects involving animals. Specifically, both chambers request that NIH require investigators to disclose publicly the total number of animals per species bred and used in the previous year. 

Also in accordance with the House version, Senate appropriators call on NIH to transfer all chimpanzees located at the Alamogordo Primate Facility to Chimp Haven, an animal sanctuary in Louisiana. Last November, the director of NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare determined that, given the frail conditions of the chimpanzees, transferring animals to Chimp Haven would not be in the best interest of animal welfare and therefore in violation of both the Animal Welfare Act and Public Health Service Policy.

In contrast to its House counterpart, the Senate Labor-HHS explanatory statement allocated funding for nonhuman primate infrastructure, consistent with President Biden’s budget request. Furthermore, the Senate version acknowledged the critical role of nonhuman primates in the development of vaccines and lifesaving therapeutics—including the COVID-19 vaccines—and requested NIH partner with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to outline a federal plan that ensures the long-term availability of this species to U.S. researchers. Additionally, while the House draft included language about accelerating the use of nonanimal alternatives in NIH research, the Senate version discusses strengthening animal model validation and minimizing administrative burden for institutions.

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.