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At LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing, Senator Murray criticizes Trump Administration’s proposed deep cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) 

Trump-Pence budget proposal pushes for hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts which would impact research on diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and more

Murray: “At a time of remarkable possibility in medical research, a time where we can and should continue leading the world in medical discovery—the Trump Administration wants to cut funding for NIH.”

Murray: “President Trump’s damaging budget is wildly out of step with the sentiments of Congress and the American people, and I feel confident our subcommittee will once again reject it.”

(Washington, D.C.)  – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS), delivered opening remarks at the Committee’s hearing on funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In her remarks, Senator Murray blasted the Trump Administration’s budget proposal for pushing for deep cuts to medical research. The Senator noted that while President Trump’s proposed budget would increase pediatric cancer research by $50 million, it would cut diabetes research by $100 million, Alzheimer’s disease research by $300 million, and research for all other types of cancer by over $1 billion.

Senator Murray also called on NIH to take greater leadership in addressing sexual harassment and implement recommendations from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine to require accountability from its grantee institutions as well. The Senator noted the devastating effects of harassment on survivors, young scientists, and the research community as a whole.

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s opening remarks:

“NIH is the largest funder of basic research in the world, and I’m proud Chairman Blunt and I have been able to increase its budget by $9 billion over the last four years—despite opposition from the Trump Administration.”

“President Trump’s budget offers one small step forward for pediatric cancer research, and a marathon sprint back for everything else. While he proposes increasing pediatric cancer research by $50 million—He proposes cutting $100 million, twice that amount, from diabetes research, he proposes cutting $300 million, six times that amount, from Alzheimer’s research, and he proposes cutting over $1 billion, twenty times that amount, from efforts to discover treatments for every other kind of cancer.”

“It’s not acceptable for NIH to defer to its grantee institutions or other agencies to address harassment rather than actually requiring them to report when it happens in research settings, or by researchers funded by NIH grants, especially when NIH’s funding gives the agency such sway with the research community.”

“Harassment undermines scientists and researchers’ professional and educational attainment, and erodes the integrity of the research enterprise. It makes survivors feel inferior or that they don’t belong, and it drives promising young scientists away from research—at great cost to the nation and to our scientific advancement.”

Full text of Senator Murray’s opening remarks below:

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

“Dr. Collins, it’s good to see you and other members of your team. 

“Welcome Doctors Fauci, Hodes, Lorsch, Lowy, Rodgers, and Volkow, and thank you for the work you do and for being here today.

“The National Institutes of Health is perhaps the best example of an issue where Members on both sides of the aisle have been able to come together. We’ve repeatedly worked in a bipartisan way to provide increased investment in research that—improves the health and wellbeing of all people, invests in local communities, and supports our country’s continued leadership in science.

“NIH is the largest funder of basic research in the world, and I’m proud Chairman Blunt and I have been able to increase its budget by $9 billion over the last four years—despite opposition from the Trump Administration.

“Unfortunately, President Trump’s latest budget stays true to form, and proposes severe cuts across the spectrum of health care activities.

“In his budget, President Trump proposes steps that would undermine health care protections for the one hundred thirty million people in this country living with a pre-existing condition.

“It would also strip health care away from tens of millions of people—and we shouldn’t forget he’s arguing in court for a ruling that would do all of that and even more.

“President Trump’s budget also proposes slashing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including their work on birth defects and disabilities, their efforts to combat antibiotic-resistant pathogens and emerging infectious diseases, and more.

“It slashes funding for health care workforce training programs at a time when our nation is facing a health care provider shortage, particularly in rural areas.

“The Trump-Pence budget also proposes eliminating funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention program, and cutting funding for rural health and maternal and child health.

“And at a time of remarkable possibility in medical research, a time where we can and should continue leading the world in medical discovery—the Trump Administration wants to cut funding for NIH.

“President Trump’s budget offers one small step forward for pediatric cancer research, and a marathon sprint back for everything else. While he proposes increasing pediatric cancer research by $50 million; he proposes cutting $100 million, twice that amount, from diabetes research; he proposes cutting $300 million, six times that amount, from Alzheimer’s research; and he proposes cutting over $1 billion, twenty times that amount, from efforts to discover treatments for every other kind of cancer.

“In fact, for every new penny President Trump proposes for pediatric research, he proposes cutting a dollar from NIH.

“He would cut funding from just about everything, which would mean delaying—or even missing—opportunities to find treatments and cures that could save lives like, a universal flu vaccine, and a vaccine for HIV.

“President Trump’s damaging budget is wildly out of step with the sentiments of Congress and the American people, and I feel confident our subcommittee will once again reject it.

“With that support, however, comes the expectation that NIH will lead in all of the fields in which it is involved—including setting the highest standards for the behavior of the research community it funds.

“Last summer, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine released a report that found sexual harassment is common in all three fields.

“The report found that almost half of women in medical school or enrolled as a graduate student in a college of medicine, and more than half of women faculty in academia, reported having experienced some form of sexual harassment.

“The Academies recommended federal research agencies require institutions to report when people on grants have violated sexual harassment policies, or have been put on administrative leave due to harassment allegations—a recommendation the National Science Foundation has since adopted. 

“NIH needs to step up and demonstrate greater leadership in holding its partners and extramural grantees accountable as well.

“It’s not acceptable for NIH to defer to its grantee institutions or other agencies to address harassment rather than actually requiring them to report when it happens in research settings, or by researchers funded by NIH grants—especially when NIH’s funding gives the agency such sway with the research community.

“Harassment undermines scientists and researchers’ professional and educational attainment, and erodes the integrity of the research enterprise.

“It makes survivors feel inferior or that they don’t belong, and it drives promising young scientists away from research—at great cost to the nation and to our scientific advancement.

“I expect more from NIH on this issue, and Chairman Blunt and Dr. Collins, I’d like to work with you both on direction that requires NIH to take meaningful action to address harassment that occurs in both intramural and extramural settings, including implementing recommendations from the Academies’ report, some of which, the National Science Foundation has already done.

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”