A strange political year has translated into an unusual legislative session. Although expected to adjourn in early October, Congress could not reach agreement on various appropriations bills and decided to postpone action until a post-Election Day lame-duck session.Ê
Because of the conflict in the presidential election, it was still questionable at the time of this report if Congress would meet on December 5 to finish the work of the 107th Congress. In the interim, funding for federal departments for which funding legislation has not passed is being maintained by temporary bills that maintain funding at the previous year's levels.
The bad news for the cancer community is that new research projects at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) may be temporarily slowed. The good news is that cancer research is not one of the issues holding up passage of the Labor, HHS, and Education appropriations bill, which contains NCI funding.
Prior to adjourning for a lame-duck session, congressional and administration negotiators agreed on the following funding levels for cancer research funding priorities of interest to the myeloma community:
- A 15% increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH);
- $3.8 billion for the NCI;
- $39.1 million for the cancer registries program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The proposed funding for NCI is an increase of $500 million over the previous year, but remains $300 million below the amount recommend in the bypass budget. The NCI bypass budget is a congressionally mandated report that the institute is required to produce to determine ideal funding levels to maintain the federal mission of cancer research. Although NCI funding has increased steadily over the past few years, it has never reached the bypass recommendation. NCI recently released the 2002 bypass budget and recommended funding of $5.03 billion, or $1.23 billion more than is expected to be appropriated this year.
The 15% NIH increase fulfills the third year of a five-year commitment by congressional leaders to double the NIH budget. Also, the funding for the cancer registries includes $15 million that were added through the joint efforts of Senators Schumer (D-NY) and Helms (R-NC). These new funds should allow existing registries to continue and expand their data gathering activities, something vitally needed by the myeloma community.
The IMF is currently working with coalitions in Washington, DC to plan for the 108th Congress, which will convene in January 2001.