Alexander: Congress Delivers $2 Billion Increase in Funding for Medical Research for 2nd Consecutive Year; Restores Year-Round Pell Grants

Posted on May 4, 2017

WASHINGTON, May 4, 2017 — Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said the Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill—which today passed the Senate—delivers increased funding for breathtaking advances in biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $2 billion for the second consecutive fiscal year. The bill also restores year-round Pell Grants.

“This bill provides a major boost for programs like the Cancer Moonshot to speed cancer research, the Precision Medicine Initiative to develop treatments and cures tailored to a patient’s genome, and the BRAIN Initiative to help prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s. This legislation helps deliver on the promise of the 21st Century Cures Act – which was the most important legislation of the last Congress according to Majority Leader McConnell – by delivering a boost of funding for the National Institutes of Health, or as Dr. Francis Collins calls it, the National Institutes of Hope.”

Additional funding for Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot, President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative and the BRAIN Initiative was authorized by Congress in last year’s 21st Century Cures Act sponsored by Senator Alexander. The $2 billion increase for the NIH included in the Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill, supports an increase for the National Cancer Institute of $176 million, an increase for the Precision Medicine Initiative of $120 million and an increase of $110 million for the BRAIN initiative to improve our understanding of the brain and to prevent diseases like Alzheimer's.

Alexander continued: “The bill also restores year-round Pell grants, helping an estimated one million students take the opportunity to graduate sooner and with less debt, which is the most important news for college students from Congress so far this year.”

Alexander concluded: “The Senate Appropriations Committee has strongly supported biomedical research at the NIH by recommending $2 billion increases to the NIH for two fiscal years in a row. This is one of my top priorities, along with funding for the national laboratories, national defense, and national parks. Those who are as concerned as I am about our out-of-control federal debt should know that this spending is not the part of the budget driving the federal debt. This one-third of the budget, which is called discretionary spending, is rising at about the annual rate of inflation. It’s the other two-thirds of the budget—called mandatory entitlement spending—that’s skyrocketing out of control.”

The Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill continues delivering on the $352 million innovation fund at NIH that was passed by Congress in December. Specifically, the NIH innovation fund includes $300 million for the Cancer Moonshot, $40 million for the Precision Medicine Initiative, $10 million for the BRAIN Initiative and $2 million for regenerative medicine using adult stem cells.