The House recently passed bipartisan legislation that includes $8.75 billion in mandatory NIH funding to support biomedical research; the Senate HELP Committee is currently working on a parallel effort known as the ‘Innovation Initiative’

In a letter to the Senate HELP Committee, Klobuchar urged the Committee to include mandatory NIH funding in forthcoming legislation

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is calling on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee to include mandatory funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in upcoming legislation. In July, the House passed the 21st Century Cures Act, bipartisan legislation that delivers $8.75 billion in mandatory NIH funding over five years to support biomedical research. The Senate HELP Committee is now working on a parallel effort, the “Innovation Initiative.” In a letter to Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) of the Senate HELP Committee, Klobuchar urged the Committee to include mandatory NIH funding at a level similar to the $8.75 billion included in the House-passed 21st Century Cures Act.

“NIH is currently the largest source of funding for medical research in the world but unless we increase our investment, China is set to surpass us by the end of the decade,” Klobuchar wrote. “We need to reverse this trend and provide the guaranteed, sustainable NIH funding that is crucial to fueling the next generation of biomedical breakthroughs and ensuring the United States continues to be a leader in medical innovation. With the lifesaving research underway at NIH, including crucial efforts like precision medicine, the health care of our future is closer than ever before.”

Klobuchar has long been a leader in efforts to provide increased funding for NIH and medical research. As Chair of the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, Klobuchar led a meeting last week with scientists and medical research advocates to discuss how research funded by NIH leads to lifesaving medical breakthroughs and deserves strong support. Also this month, Klobuchar hosted Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Sylvia Burwell in Minnesota to visit some of the state’s world-class medical facilities to highlight how critical NIH funding is to fueling medical innovation.

Klobuchar has consistently pushed her colleagues to support NIH funding in budget and appropriations negotiations, and has spoken out on the Senate floor about the damage of sequestration on NIH. Earlier this year, she cosponsored the American Cures Act, a bill that would authorize an additional investment of five percent per year at NIH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other research institutes. This steady, long-term investment would allow these vital research agencies to plan and manage strategic growth while maximizing efficiencies. The bill would also create a budget cap adjustment through the remaining years of the Budget Control Act so that additional appropriations do not trigger reductions in other discretionary funding.

Full text of senator’s letter is available below:

Dear Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray:

Thank you for your bipartisan work on the Innovation Initiative to bring attention to medical innovation and the important role the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has in developing the lifesaving treatments and cures of the future. As you work on finalizing legislation, I ask that you include mandatory NIH funding at a level similar to the $8.75 billion included in the House-passed 21st Century Cures Act.

As a percentage of the total federal budget, the government currently spends two-thirds less on research and development than it did in 1965. When factoring in inflation, NIH’s purchasing power has declined by 22 percent over the past decade. We need to reverse this trend and provide the guaranteed, sustainable NIH funding that is crucial to fueling the next generation of biomedical breakthroughs and ensuring the United States continues to be a leader in medical innovation.

I recently hosted Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell in Minnesota where we visited a few of the state’s world-class medical facilities to see the ways that technological advances are saving lives. At the Mayo Clinic’s Biobank we saw innovative research underway on precision medicine, that aims to develop a better understanding of the link between genes and diseases, and how a person’s genetic makeup affects the way their body responds to treatments. At the University of Minnesota’s Center for Magnetic Resonance Research we saw cutting-edge research bringing us closer to understanding the processes behind a host of devastating diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and other psychiatric conditions.

If we are going to continue unlocking the cures and treatments of tomorrow, we need to boost our investment in biomedical research today through increased, sustainable NIH funding. NIH is currently the largest source of funding for medical research in the world but unless we increase our investment, China is set to surpass us by the end of the decade.

Thank you for considering this request to include mandatory NIH funding in the Innovation Initiative. With the lifesaving research underway at NIH, including crucial efforts like precision medicine, the health care of our future is closer than ever before.

 

Sincerely,

 

###