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Advocacy Update: Senate Moves to Reverse Research Cuts

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Sen. Mikulski invited Fight Colorectal Cancer advocates at the 2013 Call-on Congress to join her on the Senate floor.

In February, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director, Francis Collins, and Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) warned us of the impending impact the sequester will have on biomedical research. Francis Collins echoed Senator Mikulski’s clear warning:

She stated the so-called sequestration would slow scientific progress, delay clinical trials, and put a generation of young researchers at risk if NIH’s $31 billion budget for this year is trimmed by $1.5 billion. (Quote Source: Science Insider. Feb. 21, 2013)

On June 20, members of the Senate were able to show some support for cancer research funding. Led by Senator Mikulski (D-MD), the Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, the committee approved a $1.058 trillion spending allocation that would reverse the funding cuts for cancer research caused by sequestration for the next nine years.

 

“An allocation of $1.058 trillion is needed to… invest in medical breakthroughs,” Mikulski said. “I am not willing to accept that the sequester is ‘the new normal.” Quote source:  The Cancer Letter (June 21, 2013)

Cancer is a bipartisan issue, and we have bipartisan supporters.

Camille Explains It For Us

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Our resident policy expert, Camille Bonta, helped break down the Senate’s actions:

On June 20, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted on spending limits for each of the individual fiscal year (FY) 2014 appropriations bills.

In the Senate:

  • The allocation for the Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education spending bill, which provides funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is $164.33 billion, which is $14.6 billion above current spending levels.
  • An allocation at this level would restore medical research funding, which was cut significantly this year ($1.5 billion) as a result of sequestration.

In the House:

  • Comparatively, the House’s Labor-HHS-Education spending bill allocation is $121.8 billion, $27.8 billion (or 18.6 percent) below current sequester-level spending, which puts funding for the NIH and CDC at risk for severe cuts.

Outcomes hinge on Congress avoiding another sequester:

While the Senate action under Chairman Barbara Mikulski’s (D-MD) leadership is welcomed news, the prospect for passing a Labor-HHS-Education spending bill at the Senate level is unclear and will hinge largely on whether Congress can research a deal on avoiding another sequester of federal funding in 2014.

The Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee will consider its spending bill tomorrow, on July 9, the same day that four of our Fight Colorectal Cancer advocates (Dr. Dan Dixon, Belle Piazza, Josh Wimberly and Rochelle Joseph) will be on Capitol Hill to represent all of us. Joined by by numerous cancer agencies and advocacy groups from across the country, we are all working together with One Voice Against Cancer to make our voices heard.

Fight the Good Fight with Us!

So what can you do with this news? How can YOU get involved?

  1. Call, tweet, or post.  But make sure you reach out to your member of Congress.  Particularly those in the HOUSE, encourage them to prioritize medical research. Remind them that the proposed budget will create severe cuts for the NIH and CDC.
  2. Don’t take “no” for an answer.
  3. If your member of Congress, supports research funding, thank them! 
  4. Find Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) on Facebook and Twitter.  Help us thank her for her unyielding support for cancer research funding.
  5. Sign our Petition to make your voice heard on the Hill! Now is the time to be persistent, we can’t afford to not fight research and innovation future cancer patients are relying on us!

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