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NIH to Continue at 2008 Funding Levels through March

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – In a week when US lawmakers on Capitol Hill are focused on financial problems, President George W. Bush yesterday began Fiscal Year 2009 by signing a resolution to fund the federal government for five more months at 2008 levels. 
 
Under the continuing resolution, most of the federal government, including the Department of Health and Human Services, which funds the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation and others, will continue at 2008 funding levels without adjustment for inflation to cover research costs. HHS as a whole will receive an extra $150 million, which will cover salaries and expenses.
 
The resolution did provide appropriations for the full year of 2009 for the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and Veterans affairs, all of which saw increases in funding that would offset or beat inflation.
 
“Unless the incoming 111th Congress eventually provides FY 2009 increases for NIH, NSF, and other science agencies,” according to an analyses by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, “the federal research investment in 2009 could decline for the fifth year in a row in real (inflation-adjusted) terms.”
 
“I am disappointed that the Congress passed a long-term continuing resolution,” Bush said in a White House statement yesterday when he signed the interim budget. “There is much work to be done, and the Congress should not adjourn for the year without finishing important business on spending, taxes, and free trade agreements.”
 
The resolution, which passed both the Senate and the House last week, will maintain funding through March 9, 2009.
 
AAAS pointed out today that Congress also did not extend the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit, which expired in December of 2008.
 
The White House’s budget for 2009, which the president proposed in February, called for $29.5 billion for NIH, the same amount that was budgeted for FY 2008.
 
The Senate has sought to add $2.1 billion to the NIH’s budget request for 2009, and passed a resolution to do so in March. Because the fiscal year has ended and in a month Americans will elect a new president, Congress is unlikely to take up the funding issue again until a new administration is in place.