Major Win for Research in US Congress 2016 Budget Deal

On December 18, 2015, Congress passed a budget deal that averted a government shutdown and makes substantial new investments in federal research, a top ASN policy priority. The deal increased the budgets for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Research Program.

ASN has been working in partnership with the research advocacy community to build support in Congress for these increases since Congress enacted deficit reduction measures in 2010 that cut research budgets.

The deal increases the budget for NIDDK in 2016 by $68 million, a $30 million increase over President Barack Obama’s budget request. NIDDK’s total budget for 2016 is $1.9 billion. The total represents 6.31% of total NIH funding, an increase from 5.77% in 2015 (Table 1).

Table 1

NIH received an overall increase of $2 billion, a $1 billion increase over President Obama’s budget request. NIH’s total budget for 2016 is $32 billion. The deal also increases the VA Research Program’s budget by $41.8 million, bringing the VA Research Program’s total budget to $630.7 million in 2016.

“ASN commends Congress, especially the chairs of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Representative Tom Cole (R-OK), for their commitment and support of the US research enterprise,” ASN Research Advocacy Committee Chair Frank “Chip” Brosius, MD, remarked. “After years of fiscal belt tightening, these crucial new investments will help NIH and NIDDK shore up their depleted budgets so that they can make investments in the next generation of scientists whose research discoveries and innovations may be the key to finding a cure for patients with kidney disease.”ASN has been working with a number of advocacy coalitions, including the Coalition for Health Funding, Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, Friends of NIDDK, and Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research, which successfully persuaded Congress to raise the overall budget caps for federal discretionary programs like NIH and the VA in both 2016 and 2017.