House Democrats on Monday urged Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerLobbyists bounce back under Trump Business groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Chaffetz won't run for reelection MORE (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to include more funding for the National Institutes of Health in the next government funding bill.
In a letter to BoehnerJohn BoehnerLobbyists bounce back under Trump Business groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Chaffetz won't run for reelection MORE and Pelosi, more than 100 House Democrats called for setting NIH's funding level to the agency's pre-sequester level, adjusted for inflation.
The House Democrats argued that the NIH needs more funds to develop research for cures and treatments for diseases like Alzheimer's, cancer and Ebola.
"If we are serious about breaking new ground in our understanding of complex diseases like Alzheimer's and cancer, and if we hope to accelerate the speed with which new cures, treatments and vaccines are developed — goals that are supported by congressional leaders of both parties — then it's absolutely essential that we increase funding for medical research at NIH," the lawmakers wrote.
The House Appropriations Committee indicated Monday that an omnibus spending bill lasting through September 2015 won't be released until early December. A government shutdown would ensue if Congress doesn't pass new funding by Dec. 11.
The omnibus appropriations bill is expected to contain funding at levels under the 2013 budget deal, which authorized $1.014 trillion for fiscal 2015.
Democrats ran campaign ads last month accusing Republicans of supporting budget cuts to the NIH and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They came in light of NIH Director Francis Collins stating that an Ebola vaccine could have been developed if not for recent budget cuts.
"Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have gone through clinical trials and would have been ready," Collins said in an interview with The Huffington Post last month.
But Republicans have argued that sequestration cuts were part of a bipartisan agreement in 2011 and that Democrats share an equal part of the blame. Sequestration cuts caused the NIH to reduce its budget by about 5 percent.
- Rebecca Shabad contributed.