NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — The Senate Appropriations Committee may consider sometime today or tonight adding $6.5 billion to the economic stimulus bill being debated in the Senate in order to boost funding at the National Institutes of Health.
According to members of his staff, Senator Arlen Specter (R – Pa.) is expected to propose an amendment today to the Senate Appropriations committee to the American Recovery and Reinvestment act of 2009 that would add $6.5 billion in total NIH funding to the roughly $3.5 billion in the House of Representatives’ version of the bill.
The extra funding would be a combination of both infrastructure and research funding, with the money for the latter being spread out by NIH among its constituent institutes, Specter’s staffers told Jennifer Zeitzer, legislative director for the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, who spoke with GenomeWeb Daily News today.
With the Specter amendment, the stimulus bill would provide a total of $7.85 billion for research funding to be distributed to NIH centers proportional to their current funding levels: a dramatic increase over the $1.35 billion sought under the House plan.
The new bill would maintain the other NIH funds in the House draft, which includes $1.35 billion for research that would be split up at the discretion of the Office of the Director; $500 million for infrastructure spending that would go to NIH buildings and facilities, and $300 million for shared instrumentation and capital equipment.
Zeitzer said that members of Specter’s staff informed her that Senators Richard Durbin (D – Ill.) and Tom Harkin (D – Iowa) will cosponsor the amendment, which could receive a vote today in the Appropriations committee.
It is unclear if the committee will vote on the amendment today, Zeitzer said, or whether the committee plans to take the amendments to vote one at a time or if they will vote on them together.