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Congress Passes Fiscal Year 2016 Spending Bill

The US Congress has passed a $1 trillion spending bill that includes a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health, New York Times reports.

As GenomeWeb reported earlier this week, the bill would provide NIH with $32 billion for fiscal year 2016, its biggest funding increase in 12 years. In particular, the bill allots NIH $200 million for the Precision Medicine Initiative announced by President Barack Obama early this year in his State of the Union address as well as $150 million for its BRAIN Initiative. It also gives $350 million for Alzheimer's disease research and $461 million to fight antibiotic resistance.

"It's fantastic news. We're beyond excited," Jennifer Zeitzer from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology told ScienceInsider earlier this week.

The bill would further provide $2.7 billion in discretionary funding to the US Food and Drug Administration, $132 million above its current funding level.

According to Politico, though, the bill does bar the FDA from using any of its funds to review or approve gene-editing research involving human embryos. At Business Insider, Stanford law professor Hank Greely notes that this would only applies to clinical research on human embryos — "where the embryo is a considered a "drug" given to the mother," as Business Insider says — and not basic research.

In addition, ScienceInsider notes that the bill would increase the National Science Foundation budget by 1.6 percent to $7.46 billion. But perhaps more importantly, it adds, the bill doesn't include threatened language that would have set funding levels for specific NSF-funded disciplines.

The Times notes that the bill is now headed to the White House, and President Obama has indicated that he'll sign it. 

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