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June 2000 Volume 3, Issue 9:
Congress Demonstrates Continued Support For Myeloma Research
By Greg Brozeit
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison urges NCI to support upcoming Myeloma Progress Review Group (PRG) findings
The Senate Appropriations Committee called on the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to increase myeloma research as it recommended substantial funding increases for cancer research. In the accompanying report to the bill, released on May 11, 2000, the Senate Appropriations Committee stated that it "looks forward to hearing about the Institute's plans for the Progress Review Group" at next year's appropriations hearing [see Volume 3, Number 8 issue of Myeloma Today].

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, sent a letter to NCI Director Dr. Richard Klausner on May 2, 2000 to thank him for his "leadership in forming a [PRG] to examine research and funding issues for multiple myeloma." Sen. Hutchison "also strongly encourage[d Dr. Klausner] to continue and increase efforts to focus additional research resources" toward myeloma research.

"I am pleased with the overall funding increases we have been able to achieve for the NIH in recent years," said Sen. Hutchison in a statement provided to the IMF. "I am also encouraged by the National Cancer Institute's growing commitment to better understand, treat, and ultimately cure multiple myeloma."

Earlier in a March 2000 appropriations hearing on NIH and NCI funding, subcommittee member Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) submitted questions for the record to Dr. Klausner about NCI's plans for the PRG as well as a variety of other questions on myeloma research.

Cancer Research Funding a High Priority
The Senate version of the bill recommended $20.5 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an increase of $2.7 billion (14.9%) over last year's amount and $1.7 billion more than the administration included in its fiscal year 2001 budget. This figure includes a $3.8 billion funding level for NCI.

The House bill was subject to more stringent overall funding requirements than the Senate bill and recommended $18.8 for NIH. Reflecting the commitment of the House subcommittee chairman Rep. John Porter to cancer research, the subcommittee recommended $3.79 billion for NCI and expressed its desire to increase funding for NIH by 15%. The accompanying report for the House bill will be released following a meeting of the House Appropriations Committee in late May.

The administration stated its intention to veto the appropriations bill when it reaches the White House. The veto threat is based on education and health benefits funding issues unrelated to cancer research. If a veto does occur, it is likely that Congress will act on final passage of a new bill prior to an anticipated adjournment in the first week of October 2000. The accompanying report language on myeloma research will remain in the bill since it is not among the issues separating Congress and the administration.

As members of the National Coalition for Cancer Research and a newly formed 36-member working group on cancer appropriations, the IMF supports a funding level of $4.1 billion for NCI in fiscal year 2000 and a doubling of the NIH budget over 5 years; both are increases of 15%. In addition, the IMF supports $612 million for cancer prevention programs at the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

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