Apparently, hell has frozen over. Congressional Republicans not only refused to support Donald Trump, they gleefully froze out one of the most draconian aspects of his proposed budget. Finally, the man sitting in the Oval Office has some adult supervision.
Both the House and the Senate wrote identical bills that make it impossible for Trump to deeply slash the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) research funding. The president’s first draft budget called for a change in how the research monies would be calculated and paid out to NIH. Basically, Trump wanted to steal money from the organization, which is vital to the nation’s health, to build up his military and border wall.
Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee made public the increase in a Senate committee, and the audience broke out clapping.
The GOP appeared delighted with this action and even increased biomedical research spending. The bill will give NIH $36.1 billion for their coming year, which begins in October. Chairman of the health spending subcommittee Republican Roy Blunt of Missouri claimed that not only had they refused to slash spending, they gave NIH a $2 billion increase, for the third year in a row. That equals a 20 percent increase over that period of time.
Trump had called for axing $7.5 billion from NIH, which equaled a 22 percent reduction. He seemed to have no compunction about do so. According to the New York Times, the second Democratic Senator in command, Richard Durbin of Illinois, commented that Trump’s cut would have been far too close to the bone:
‘(It) would have crippled American innovation in medical research, delayed new cures and treatments and brought N.I.H. funding to its lowest level since 2002.’
Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price wanted the cuts. The Times reported that he told the House Appropriations Committee last March:
‘About 30 percent of the grant money that goes out is used for indirect expenses, which, as you know, means that that money goes for something other than the research that’s being done.’
Lobbyist for the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, Anthony Mazzaschi, told the Times that the increase was “spectacular:”
‘The spectacular increase provided by the Senate Appropriations Committee is amazing in the current fiscal environment. Neither the Senate nor the House paid much attention to the president’s recommendations.’
Check out this video of the Senate applauding the passage of their NIH funding via C-Span3:
Featured Image via Getty Images/Win McNamee.