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Congress Moves to Finish Old Business
By Greg Brozeit
Please contact your members of Congress to urge them to complete the five-year funding pledge to double funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Both President Bush and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee have recommended the $27.2 billion needed to complete the pledge and there is widespread support throughout Congress to reach that level.

The leadership of the House and Senate appropriations committees is expected to meet in the next week to pass 11 Fiscal Year 2003 appropriations bills to fund federal government operations. President Bush must sign these bills into law before the next appropriations cycle begins. The 107th Congress adjourned without passing 11 of the required 13 annual appropriations needed to fund the federal government. The only two bills that have been passed and signed into law were for Defense and Military Construction.

Since no new funding was approved by the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1, 2002, federal spending has remained at the previous year's levels through continuing resolutions passed by Congress prior to adjournment for the November elections. In essence this is a cut for medical research spending because it is widely expected that Congress would increase funding for NIH.

As Morton Kondracke wrote in the December 16, 2002 edition of Roll Call, "With NIH caught up in Congress' failure to pass most fiscal 2003 appropriations bills this year, it's even possible that research funding will crash into a wall in a month or two. Fiscal realities and other priorities make some slowdown in the growth of medical research funding inevitable, but if it's too sudden laboratories will close, promising projects will stop and young researchers will be forced out of the field."

Remember to contact your members of Congress to remind them that inaction will stifle research.

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