News From the Hill: June 1, 2018
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have already started to focus on campaign season for the upcoming mid-term elections. However, before they shift their attention completely to the stump meaningful progress continues to be made on timely legislation. Most notably, both the House and Senate are advancing appropriations bills for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. The House Labor-Health and Human Services-Education (L-HHS) Appropriations Bill may see a markup the week of June 13th while the Senate’s version of the annual spending bill is set to be released and considered the last week of May. However, the timeline may slip until after the 4th of July and finalization of the FY 2019 spending bills will likely occur in the lame-duck session later this year (at the earliest).
Early indications for overall FY 2019 funding levels for medical research programs have been encouraging. As a result of feedback from key appropriators, NIH is poised for another annual funding increase of at least $2 billion. Such an allocation should, once again, facilitate growth in clinical and translational research as well as career development programs (particularly at NIH). The community remains hopeful that another funding increase will include ample support for the full complement of activities at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, including the Clinical and Translational Science Awards program and the Cures Acceleration Network.
Congress is also working to advance another round of comprehensive legislation to address the opioid epidemic that includes a specific emphasis on the nexus of opioids and increases in rates of infectious disease. In fact, the focus on opioids has consumed a great deal of the time and attention for the healthcare program authorizing committees. However, there is also notable work being done to reauthorize the Higher Education Act and specific public health programs. Much like with the appropriations bills though, it is likely that any final legislative action will take place after the November elections.