NIH sequester cuts will harm economy, advocates say

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"We cannot allow budget cuts, such as those looming from the sequester, to undermine the biomedical research enterprise, causing the loss of jobs and prosperity, as well as setting us back at a time when we are on the cusp of exciting new advances," said UMR President Carrie Wolinetz in a statement.

The group represents research institutions, private industry and a variety of patient and health advocates.

Warnings about sequestration have returned as the across-the-board cuts draw near, and President Obama demanded Tuesday that Congress act to protect the federal budget. 

"There is no reason that the jobs of thousands of Americans who work in national security or education or clean energy — not to mention the growth of the entire economy — should be put in jeopardy," Obama said.

Lawmakers punted the reductions from Jan. 1 to March 1 in their deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff" at the beginning of the year. The sequester was triggered by a congressional supercommittee's failure to reach an agreement on deficit reduction in 2011.

The NIH budget will be cut by 5.1 percent unless lawmakers act in the next month.