Bipartisan Effort Underway to Boost NIH for FY 2014

Congressmen David McKinley (R-WV) and Ed Markey (D-MA) have called for increasing NIH funding to $32B in FY 2014, which would repair much of the damage done to biomedical research by the budget sequestration order issued on March 1st. Members of the oral health research community are asked to urge their representatives in the House to support this bipartisan effort.

The stakes for research have never been higher. We know that research is a critical national investment that will save and improve lives while growing our economy. Make sure your representatives get the message by visiting the AADR Action Center. Remember to share this alert on Facebook and with everyone in your network.

AADR Action Center

McKinley-Markey “Dear Colleague Letter”

Revisiting the Origins of Budget Sequestration

President Obama signs the Budget Control Act of 2011

With a sequester of the federal budget now a reality, some are asking: “How did we get here?” Neither the White House nor Congress are accepting attribution for the idea.

Budget sequestration stems back to the US debt-ceiling crisis in the summer of 2011. At the time, there was a fierce debate over the ability of the federal government to borrow additional money to pay its bills. The term “debt ceiling” refers to the government’s legal borrowing limit. At the time, the debt limit of 14.29 trillion dollars had been reached. The government faced an August 3rd, 2011 default on its obligations, if it not allowed to borrow additional capital. With just days to spare, Democrats and Republicans reached a deal known as the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). The legislation raised the debt ceiling in exchange for spending cuts to reduce the deficit. The BCA put in place spending cuts for a period of ten years (2012-2021), for a total of 2.4 trillion dollars; 1.5 trillion dollars of the total was to come from discretionary spending, half of which was of the non-defense discretionary (NDD) category. As a result, NDD spending was set on a course to fall to its lowest level on record, as a share of GDP, with data going back to 1962.  Continue reading

Oral Health Groups Join in Budget Message to Congress

AADR joined the American Dental Association and the American Dental Education Association in a letter to Congress that outlined the oral health impacts of the impending budget sequester of federal agencies and programs. The letter was directed specifically to members of the Congressional Oral Health Caucus, appropriators, and senior leadership in the House and Senate.

The groups highlighted anticipated problems such as a diminished ability to attract much needed dental specialists to the Indian Health Service if funding is dramatically reduced, decreased ability of dental schools to provide safety-net services to the public as is commonly done, and a loss of breakthroughs leading to enhanced oral and systemic health stemming from reduced grants from the National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

Full ADA-ADEA-AADR Letter to Congress

Registration for AADR-ADEA Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill Now Open

AADR and the American Dental Education Association are pleased to announce that registration is now open for the 2013 Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill. As you’ve likely gleaned from recent media reports, federal investments in research – and just about everything else – are scheduled to drop significantly in the months and years ahead. It is imperative that Members of Congress hear of their constituents’ budget priorities, so that some degree of prioritization can be added to the appropriations process.

If you have previously visited your congressional delegation, the AADR-ADEA Advocacy Day offers a chance for you to reengage. If you have never visited your congressional delegation, the event presents an ideal opportunity to establish relationships on  the Hill. Participants will receive a brief morning overview from AADR-ADEA government affairs staff and Members of Congress, as well as an update from leadership of the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research. Deans, faculty members, and students from several institutions have already registered for the event. We hope to have each AADR institution represented. The event carries no registration fee. To register, simply contact Jonathan Nurse, AADR Director of Government Affairs, at jnurse@aadronline.org or (703) 299-8098.

AADR-ADEA Advocacy Day Website

Another Budget Deal Reached, Another Day Closer to Cuts

On January 23rd, the House of Representatives passed legislation to suspend the debt ceiling until May 18th, meaning that the Treasury Department will be able to fulfill its spending obligations until then. The Senate and White House have indicated that they will go along with the House bill on the debt limit -despite reservations over the short length of the suspension. However, a budget for this year and a longer-term spending plan to avoid the approaching across-the-board cuts appears to be in even greater jeopardy, as the House majority has identified this as the battle they wish to have. Government programs, including those supporting research at NIH and NSF, are vulnerable to cuts of 5.1% of their budgets for this year and deeper cuts in the out-years. These cuts will begin in less than two month, on March 1st. The most immediate cuts will apply to the remaining budget of Fiscal Year 2013, which ends on September 30th. As a consequence, if an alternative is not developed, federal agencies will have a short and immediate window to achieve the prescribed FY13 cuts.

**2/1/13 Update** Debt Ceiling Suspension Approved by Senate, and Sent to President Obama

White House Statement on Short-Term Debt Limit Suspension

OMB Guidance to Agencies on Sequester

Rep. DeLauro Urges Action, Critiques Fiscal Cliff Deal

Today, in a Capitol Hill meeting with dozens of health and research groups (including AADR), Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) called on advocates to keep up the pressure on Congress. In a combination of prepared and off-the-cuff remarks, the Congresswoman explained that now is no time for advocates of health and research to rest, despite passage of a tax deal to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Rep. DeLauro voted against the New Year’s Day tax compromise primarily because it does nothing to avert deep cuts to discretionary funding to agencies such as the National Institutes of Health. She stated that the tax compromise actually puts increased pressure on spending for health and research by permanently removing certain options to increase revenue. Continue reading

Fiscal Cliff Deal Leaves Research Cuts on the Horizon

On New Year’s day, the Senate and House passed legislation, American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, to address the tax portion of the fiscal cliff and delay the across-the-board cuts (a.k.a. “sequester”) to federal agencies by two months.

Bush-era tax rates made permanent for 99%- The legislation permanently extends 2012 tax rates for annual income below $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples.

Across-the-board cuts delayed- According to the White House, “the agreement saves $24 billion, half in revenue and half from spending cuts which are divided equally between defense and non-defense, in order to delay the sequester for two months. This will give Congress time to work on a balanced plan to end the sequester permanently through a combination of additional revenue and spending cuts in a balanced manner.” Continue reading

AADR Members Send 500+ Messages on the Fiscal Cliff to the Hill

Over the past few weeks, 171 AADR members joined to send 522 messages on the fiscal cliff to Members of Congress. In just two weeks, across-the-board spending reductions of roughly 8% will take place if Speaker John Boehner and President Obama fail to develop a path forward. The indiscriminate reductions in federal spending would coincide with an expiration of reduced tax levels currently in place. Economists have stated that the combination would likely send the nation back into recession. As often mentioned on this blog and others, $2.5 billion and an estimated 2,300 grants would be lost from the NIH portfolio alone.

AADR efforts to explain the detrimental impacts of the budget sequester to Congress are joined by the similar actions of partner health and research organizations. Together, a community of advocates representing non-defense discretionary budget priorities (which includes HHS/NIH) have made tens of thousands of contacts to Capitol Hill in recent weeks and the message is resonating.

Initial sketches of a potential agreement between the President and Speaker of the House show a 1:1 relationship between additional spending reductions and increased revenue largely in the form of limiting tax deductions and increasing rates on the affluent. Both sides remain a long way from a deal, but the fact that budget negotiations are drawing from various components of the federal budget and not primarily non-defense discretionary spending represents a major shift from just a few months ago and a potential victory for health and research advocates.

It’s not too late to join the 171 AADR members who have taken action to protect biomedical research. Visit the AADR Action Center and in just 5 minutes you can bring us a step closer to a balanced approach to deficit reduction and increased stability for federal research agencies and their grantees.

AADR Joins Groups in Discussion with Democratic Whip

Health and Research Groups Meet with Democratic Whip Hoyer

On December 12th, AADR joined with approximately 40 other groups in a meeting with House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) to discuss the impact of the impending budget sequester on research and health. The groups, united under the umbrella of the Coalition for Health Funding, had a chance to hear of the House minority party’s views on the budget debate as well as to ask questions about the negotiations now taking place.

Rep. Hoyer explained that he views the current debate as a referendum on the role of government, as well as an exercise in mathematics. He articulated a vision of a government that has a role in helping Americans attain an education and stay healthy. He stated that government’s role in education and health is particularly important for low income Americans and that they must be protected during the current budget negotiations. The congressman made a point heard often during the 2012 elections, which is that reducing the debt must involve a balanced approach consisting of new revenues and spending reductions; otherwise the math just doesn’t work. Continue reading

Five Minutes for the Future, 500 Letters to Congress

Now that the 2012 elections are over, Congress is returning to the business of crafting a 10-year deficit reduction plan. While efforts to bring the federal budget into greater balance are certainly necessary, Congress must do so in a way that doesn’t cost lives or impede the economic growth made possible through investments in biomedical research.

On January 2, 2013, the National Institutes of Health – along with much of the Federal government – stands to lose approximately 8% of its budget as required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). The $2.5 billion loss at NIH would result in 2,300 fewer research grants awarded in Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 alone. For the fiscal year that concluded on September 30, 2012, the NIH grant success rate is likely to be reported as falling to 15% -an all-time low. A budget loss at the level required by the BCA could send the NIH grant success rate towards the single digits. Continue reading