Congress Holds FY 2023 Budget Hearings for NIH
Over the past few weeks, the House and the Senate held their respective budget hearings for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for fiscal year (FY) 2023, hearings that typically feature the NIH director and several of the directors of NIH’s institutes and centers (ICs). On May 11, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) held its hearing led by Full Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK). Witnesses included Acting Director of NIH Larry Tabak, Director of the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Diana Bianchi, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Gary Gibbons, Acting Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Doug Lowy, and Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Nora Volkow. In their opening statements, DeLauro and Cole both praised NIH for its work and indicated they were interested in continuing to grow the agency’s budget in a bipartisan manner. However, while both DeLauro and Cole also expressed support for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) (see related article), each aired several concerns with its recent transfer into NIH. DeLauro stated that “placing ARPA-H within NIH is a mistake and will hamper the agency’s ability” to make health research breakthroughs, with Cole agreeing. In addition, both were wary that the base NIH budget may get squeezed to afford increases to ARPA-H, and Cole was hesitant to provide large increases of funding for ARPA-H without a director, physical location, or infrastructure. Additional questions from the Committee concerned the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, maternal health research, increasing the number of early-career researchers, research in minority health and health disparities, and more. A recording of the hearing is available on the Subcommittee website.
On May 17, the Senate LHHS Subcommittee held its hearing led by Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Roy Blunt (R-MO). Witnesses included Tabak, Fauci, Gibbons, Volkow, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Josh Gordon, and Director of the National Institute of Aging (NIA) Richard Hodes. Murray expressed support for several NIH priorities in her opening statements such as research on Alzheimer’s disease and how they might be addressed by the Senate’s proposed authorization legislation for ARPA-H, the Advanced Research Projects Authority for Health Act (S. 3819). Blunt also expressed praise for NIH and for sustaining the budget for the agency, but also stated his support for establishing ARPA-H with some level of independence within NIH. Other members of the Subcommittee questioned the witnesses on issues such as the closure of the Undiagnosed Disease Network, addressing growing mental health crises, the use of vaccination requirements in workplaces, developing early career researcher opportunities, and more. Witness testimony and a recording of the hearing is available on the Subcommittee website.