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Congress Passes Small NIH Increase for 2012

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – As part of a large appropriations bill passed over the weekend to fund the federal government through the remainder of Fiscal Year 2012, the US Congress has passed a small funding increase of nearly $300 million for the National Institutes of Health.

The Senate and the House of Representatives have agreed to provide NIH a funding level of $30.7 billion, an increase of only $1.7 million over fiscal year 2011 —but a change in the way an AIDS program would be funded under the plan would bring NIH a total increase of $299 million. The agreed upon funding falls between a 1 percent cut for NIH proposed by the Senate Appropriations Committee and a 3 percent increase proposed by the House of Representatives.

A complete breakdown of funding in the agreement for the agencies run by the Department of Health and Human Services has not been released.

Fiscal Year 2012 began in October and the federal government has been funded at 2011 levels under continuing resolutions while Congress has continued to develop appropriations bills.

The bill also would reduce the salary cap on extramural grants from Executive Level I, which was $199,700 in 2011, to Executive Level II ($179,700), according to analysis by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The appropriations bill also cuts funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality by $3 million to $369.1 million, or 0.8 percent. It would provide $6.1 billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an increase of $38 million over the 2011 level and $269 million less than the White House's budget request.

The agreement between the House and Senate on appropriations to fund HHS, NIH, and other federal agencies does not necessarily mean that the new funding level will be enacted any time soon, as other disagreements in Congress over extending tax cuts and other spending levels continue to linger.

Any complete agreement on 2012 funding also could be contingent on how Congress chooses to implement the $1.2 trillion in across-the-board cuts to discretionary spending expected for FY 2013 because of the failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to reach an agreement to cut the deficit.

The agreement also would implement the changes necessary to create the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, while eliminating the National Center for Research Resources, according to AAMC.

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