NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — The US Senate today passed its version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which holds $10 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health and support of less voluminous levels for other research agencies.
The bill, which passed at a vote of 61 in favor— including three Republican and one Independent votes — and 37 against, will now advance to a joint conference between the Senate and the House of Representatives.
In conference, the House conferees will review the Senate's changes to their draft of the bill, which included the addition of $6.5 billion in NIH funding, which so far has not been an object of dispute, as have spending cuts to education programs.
The conference may include a tug-of-war between Democratic progressives and moderate Republicans in the Senate. Those Democrats are unlikely to oppose the extra money needed for NIH but are likely to want to remove from the bill the education and tax cuts that the three Republicans added, Jennifer Zeitzer, who is director of legislative relations at the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology, told GenomeWeb Daily News today.
Even if NIH funding has not become a controversial talking point, it could still be cut if conferees begin hunting for ways to trim the overall size of the package.
It also is possible that NIH could eventually receive a number somewhere between the $3.5 billion originally requested by the House and the $10 billion in the Senate bill.