On April 2, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) hosted leadership from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to testify on the agency’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget request on April 2. Present were NIH Director Francis Collins, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Director Diana Bianchi, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony Fauci, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Director Gary Gibbons, National Cancer Institute (NCI) Deputy Director Doug Lowy, and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow. Members from both parties praised NIH for its accomplishments, solidifying its position as a bipartisan priority.
Full Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY), Subcommittee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK), and other members of the subcommittee expressed concern with the $4.9 billion cut recommended in the President’s FY 2020 budget request, especially in contrast to the $2 billion increase NIH received from Congress in FY 2019. Committee members questioned the witnesses on the health trends associated with e-cigarettes and vaping, Schedule 1 substance research, the growing measles epidemic, health disparities among women and minorities, and NIH’s testing of medical treatments on animals. A written statement from Collins, along with a recording of the hearing can be found on the committee’s website.
The following week on April 11, the Senate Appropriations LHHS Subcommittee held its budget hearing with NIH leaders, including Drs. Collins, Fauci, Lowy, and Volkow, as well as National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Director Griffin Rodgers, National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) Director Jon Lorsch, and National Institute on Aging (NIA) Director Richard Hodes. As in the House, NIH received bipartisan praise from Subcommittee members. Several senators, including Full Committee Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL), Subcommittee Chair Roy Blunt (R-MO), Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) expressed concern with the cut in the President’s 2020 budget. Committee members questioned the witnesses on NIH activities relating to foreign government espionage and theft of research, preventing sexual harassment in research settings, NIH’s relationship with private research entities, developing young scientists, the opioid epidemic, and the growing measles epidemic. Written statements from Blunt and Collins, along with a recording of the hearing can be found on the committee’s website.