Lawmakers propose $1.1B boost to NIH, defying Trump budget

Lawmakers propose $1.1B boost to NIH, defying Trump budget
© Getty

The House subcommittee controlling the purse strings of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Wednesday proposed a $1.1 billion boost for the agency, defying the Trump administration's push for cuts.

The White House had proposed slashing the nation’s medical research agency by $5.8 billion. 

But it was clear from the get-go that Congress wouldn’t support cutting NIH’s budget, with members of both parties in opposition.

In late May, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said he didn’t think Congress would be on board with the cuts, saying “I don’t think it’s a wise choice.”

"I certainly understand wanting to plus up defense, but you have to remember part of defending the American people is protecting them from pandemics,” Cole, the chairman of the House health appropriations subcommittee, said. “Part of getting hold of the long-term expenses of the federal government is dealing with things like Alzheimer's.”

Democrats and Republicans alike have banded together to support NIH in recent years.

A spending bill passed in December 2015 included a $2 billion boost for the agency, which was the biggest increase it had seen in about a dozen years. Congress included another $2 billion hike to NIH for the rest of the current fiscal year, although the Trump administration had proposed a $1.2 billion decrease.

NIH is responsible for projects such as the BRAIN Initiative, the Cancer Moonshot and the Precision Medicine Initiative, which will build a 1-million person strong research cohort.