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Mandatory Funding Clash

A set of biomedical innovation bills got caught up in a US Senate fight over mandatory spending on biomedical research, Stat News reports.

It adds that the seven bills — part of the 21st Century Cures Act — were eventually approved by the Senate committee, though not without Democratic lawmakers warning that they wouldn't support them when they reach the wider Senate without an agreement from Republicans to increase biomedical research spending.

Democratic Senators led by Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee attached their proposal to approve $5 billion a year in mandatory biomedical research funding. This, Stat News notes, would guarantee funding for programs like Vice President Joe Biden's cancer moonshot, the Precision Medicine Initiative, and the BRAIN Initiative, among others.

Some $1.8 billion in mandatory funding for the National Institutes of Health was part of President Barack Obama's budget request for fiscal year 2017.

However, their Republican counterparts argue that they won't support mandatory funding without knowing where those funds will come from. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the committee chair, instead suggested "surge" funding, in which NIH would be given additional funds, but for a limited time, Stat News adds.