Congressional Spending Compromise Contains $2 Billion Funding Increase for National Institutes of Health

Trump proposal would’ve slashed 19 percent in federal funding for Bethesda-based agency


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Aerial view of the NIH campus

Via NIH

The National Institutes of Health, a Bethesda-based federal agency, would get a $2 billion funding boost under a spending plan hammered out by congressional negotiators.

The bipartisan agreement that would fund the government until the end of September and avert a shutdown was released Monday and is expected to come up for a vote early this week, according to The Washington Post. The funding bill contains $34 billion for NIH, targeting additional dollars specifically for research on Alzheimer’s disease, antibiotic resistance, the brain and research on individualizing medical care, according to a report from the House Appropriations Committee.

The proposed funding increase over the prior fiscal year comes after President Donald Trump suggested slashing 19 percent from the NIH budget, prompting an outcry from Montgomery County elected leaders and patient advocates.

NIH is Montgomery County’s largest employer and has about 20,000 workers at its Bethesda campus.

Maryland Delegate Ariana Kelly, a Democrat from Bethesda, welcomed news of the congressional deal.

“I think it’s a great sign to see there is bipartisan support for medical research,” she said.

The agreement likely doesn’t represent the end of the struggle to maintain NIH funding levels, but it is a step in the right direction, Kelly said.

Congressional leaders have been wrangling for weeks over a spending plan to keep the federal government from shutting down. Trump at first demanded the deal include money for construction of a wall along the border between the U.S. and Mexico, but he later abandoned the requirement, the Post reported.

Trump’s budget proposal also included spending cuts for other Maryland-based agencies, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The congressional agreement now on the table slates $5.7 billion for NOAA, roughly $90 million less than the prior fiscal year, according to the appropriations report. Trump’s proposal would’ve slashed about $513 million from a satellite division in Silver Spring.

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