Alexander Votes for Additional $2 Billion Increase for Advances in Biomedical Research at National Institutes of Health

Posted on September 7, 2017

Says legislation also boosts Pell grants funding so Tennessee students have opportunity to graduate sooner and with less debt

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 7, 2017 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today voted for a funding bill that supports biomedical research and continues year-round Pell grant availability for Tennessee students. 

“Governing is about setting priorities, and that is exactly what this Republican-led Senate is doing," Alexander said. “This funding bill provides a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the third consecutive year, which includes $496 million for the NIH Innovation Fund as authorized by the 21st Century Cures Act, and $500 million for state opioid abuse crisis grants. This funding will provide support for breathtaking advances in biomedical research and help us take advantage of this exciting time in science, and is a step forward in helping states continue fighting  opioid abuse.”

Alexander – as chairman of the Senate’s health committee -- was the chief architect of the 21st Century Cures Act, legislation Congress passed and was signed into law last year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called it “the most important legislation of the year.”

Alexander continued, "This funding bill also continues to provide year-round Pell grants helping nearly 1 million students – including roughly 20,000students in Tennessee – take the opportunity to graduate sooner and with less debt. As the chairman of the Senate education committee, my top education priority this year is reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, and our committee already has several bipartisan proposals to simplify the dreaded FAFSA and the maze of student loan and repayment plans so it's easier for students to go to college and to repay their loans; reduce the burden of regulations on colleges, which receive one new regulatory guidance document from the federal government each work day; and improve student success with policies that help students complete their programs." 

The Fiscal Year 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill includes funding for the following health priorities:

  • $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health.
  • $5 million increase for the Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education program.
  • The bill includes $400 million for the BRAIN Initiative at NIH, which is $140 million more than the FY17 enacted level.
  • Funding for Public Health Preparedness and Response including the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), Project BioShield, and the Strategic National Stockpile is maintained at FY17 enacted levels.
  • Community Health Centers are funded at a total level of $1.49 billion which is equal to the FY17 enacted level.
  • The Child Care and Development Block program is funded at $2.9 billion, which is equal to the FY17 enacted level.
  • Head Start is funded at $9.3 billion, which is equal to the FY17 enacted level. 

The bill also includes funding for the following education priorities:

  • The bill increases the maximum Pell award from $5,920 to $6,020 and continues the year-round Pell grant program.
  • $1.8 million is included for the Presidential and Congressional History Teaching Academies.
  • $367 million is included for Charter Schools, a $25 million increase over the FY17 enacted level.

Alexander also voted for the Fiscal Year 2018 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill which funds the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other programs. The funding bill also provides resources to ensure the security of U.S. Foreign Service Officers and U.S. Embassy personnel overseas. 

The Fiscal Year 2018 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill includes funding for the following priorities: 

  • Provides $8.71 billion for Global Health Programs to help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, polio, malaria, tuberculosis, pandemic influenza and other emerging diseases.
  • $1.35 billion for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which provides humanitarian aid to address poverty, hunger worldwide and help build sustainable democracies.
  • $5.8 billion to strengthen embassy security and protect U.S. Diplomats around the world. 
  • $8.29 billion for international security assistance to support U.S. allies and strengthen our national security through counterterrorism assistance, education, peacekeeping and foreign military training. 

Today, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill and the Fiscal Year 2018 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill. Today’s vote means these two funding bills are ready to be considered by the full Senate.

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For access to this release and the senator’s other statements, click here.

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