publication date: Feb. 16, 2018

A confusing Valentine: White House proposes cutting NIH by 27 percent, and—at the same time—reverses the cut

By Paul Goldberg

What a difference a week makes.

Last week, advocates for biomedical research were bracing for another shutdown of the federal government and fearing that the president’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 would drastically slash NIH.

However, in fits and starts, Congress came through, passing a stopgap spending bill and lifting caps on discretionary spending, adding another $296 billion (The Cancer Letter, Feb. 9).

The president’s budget indeed came out as planned on Feb. 12. With more money to spend, The White House published its original budget, but accompanied it with an addendum that more or less cancels out the proposed cuts.

The president proposed a 27 percent reduction for NIH. Since his blueprint contained no directives to the institute, the cut was apparently not contemplated as punishment. It seemed to simply represented the level the administration considered appropriate.

After Congress lifted the spending caps, the president proposed adding in another $9 billion, in effect making 2019 spending revert to 2017 level.

The original budget would have been brutal for NCI—a drop from the FY 2018 level of $5.352 billion to what appeared to be the low of $3,756 billion that was proposed by the Trump White House. Revised, the budget proposal calls for $5,226 billion for NCI. Boosted by another $400 million from the 21st Century Cures Act, also known as the Moonshot, this adds up to $5.626 billion.

A table below summarizes what could have happened to NCI and what actually did happen:

Continue reading A confusing Valentine: White House proposes cutting NIH by 27 percent, and—at the same time—reverses the cut

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