The Labor-HHS appropriations bill for fiscal year 2006 is now in conference. This is because the Senate and the House of Representatives passed differing versions: the Senate version raised National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding by $1 billion while the House version approved an increase of $145 million
The Senate version is a 3.7% increase which is about equal to the medical research inflation rate. The House version is essentially a cut because of inflation and it would probably hit NIH with a cut of about $100 million.
The ultimate fate of the Senate increase is in doubt due to major pressure in both the Senate and the House for cuts in mandatory and discretionary spending. There is legislation in both houses which cuts between $40 and $50 billion in mandatory spending. There continues to be discussion of an across-the-board cut in discretionary spending which would include cuts in NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Just last month, 92 Senators and 280 Representatives signed a letter in support of the Bush Administration’s goal to eliminate suffering and death due to cancer by 2015. Cutting funding for cancer research and other cancer programs is a step in the wrong direction. It would mean delays in new cancer drugs, new cancer screenings and life-saving cancer treatments. By depriving cancer programs of critical funding Congress goes back on the commitment it made its letter to reach the 2015 goal.
Some in Congress say we cannot afford to spend more on cancer research. We say “Can we afford not to?”
Call your Senators and Representatives to tell them to fully fund cancer programs. You can also click on the “One Minute Advocate” link to send a message to Congress.