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House Considers $1.2B Boost to Bush's '09 NIH Budget

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institutes of Health would receive a $1.2 billion increase over this year in 2009 under a budget proposal being considered this week by the House Appropriations Committee.
Representative David Obey (D – Wis.), who chairs the committee and the subcommittee on Labor, Health and Education, and who submitted the proposed budget for next year, said the additional funding would make up for what he called constraints placed on Congress by the Bush administration’s “short-sighted priorities.”
President George W. Bush in February proposed a total of $29.5 billion for the NIH in fiscal 2009 in the administration’s budget.
The proposal would approve a total of $30.1 billion, compared to the $28.9 billion the NIH received in fiscal 2008.
Among a number of other funding increases for Medicare, state insurance pools, and vocational education, the increased appropriation would allow the NIH “to capitalize on unprecedented scientific opportunities that reduce the disease burden on the country,” Congressman Obey said in a statement late last week.
“In all my years in Congress, I’ve never had anybody come up to me and say, ‘Obey, why don’t you guys get your act together and cut cancer research?’ And yet, that’s what happened over the last two years,” Obey continued. 
The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, a group that has criticized the White House’s budget proposal and has asked for Congress to approve $31.2 billion for the NIH, cheered the new proposal.
“Years of flat funding have been discouraging to researchers and have delayed the progress of life-saving discoveries,” FASEB President Robert Palazzo responded in a statement.
The full committee will meet for markup of the bill on Thursday.

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