House Dems seek answers on NIH funding and gun violence

House Dems seek answers on NIH funding and gun violence
© Getty Images

House Democrats want to know if the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has cut off funding for a program dedicated to studying gun violence.

In a letter to NIH Director Francis Collins, Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges — House passes opioid bill | Planned Parenthood sues over teen pregnancy program | Azar to face Senate next week House passes bipartisan bill to fight opioid crisis Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges —Dems, health groups demand immigrant children be quickly reunited with families MORE (D-N.J.) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) asked if the NIH has discontinued the gun violence research program, and if so, why.

ADVERTISEMENT
“This funding was critical because the difficulty in obtaining federal research funding has limited the number of current researchers and the development of the next generation of researchers focused on gun violence prevention,” the lawmakers wrote.  

 

Following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, President Obama directed health agencies to begin funding research into firearms. The NIH awarded a total of $18 million for nearly two dozen research projects.

But the funding expired in January and the agency has yet to renew it.

The Dickey Amendment, which was inserted into a congressional spending bill in 1996, has effectively stopped the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from studying gun violence.

The amendment prohibits the agency from using government money "to advocate or promote gun control.”

In their letter, the lawmakers noted that while the amendment does not explicitly bar research on gun violence, it has had a chilling effect.

Last month, in the wake of the Las Vegas concert shooting, Senate Democrats called on the NIH to renew the lapsed funding.

In response, the NIH said in a statement to The Hill that while reissuance of the grants “is still under consideration, NIH continues to fund research on violence, including firearm violence, and continues to accept applications submitted to existing general funding opportunity announcements that accept applications three times per year.”