March 03, 2016

Senate Democrats Introduce Bill to Restore Medical Research Funding

HELP Committee Democrats Call On Republicans to Commit to Reliable Investments in Lifesaving Biomedical Science at NIH, FDA

Fact Sheet
Bill Text

Washington, DC - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today introduced the National Biomedical Research Act with all of their Democratic colleagues on the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee. This bill would increase funding for targeted biomedical research initiatives through a new, reliable funding stream supporting the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The purchasing power of the NIH has been cut by Congress for more than a decade. This funding boost will help restore the NIH budget to its 2006 levels, adjusted for biomedical inflation. Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) are original cosponsors of the legislation.

"Federal investment in medical research saves lives, spurs innovation and boosts our economy - but ‎Congress has neglected these critical investments for more than a decade,‎"‎ Senator Warren said. "Any package of innovation bills coming out of the HELP Committee must include significant increases in funding for NIH and FDA. Anything less is just lip service."‎

"Democrats have made our goal very clear: we want to advance medical innovation that makes a difference for patients and families, and that means stronger investments in the NIH and the FDA," said Senator Murray. "With this legislation, our scientists and researchers will have the tools, resources, and certainty that are critical to tackling some of our most pressing medical challenges, from heart disease to cancer. There is bipartisan agreement on the need to boost investments in innovative medical research, so I hope that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle will join us to advance this legislation and offer hope to patients and families nationwide."

"Every day here in Maryland, the NIH is meeting compelling human needs developing new treatments and cures. It truly is the National Institutes of Hope," Senator Mikulski said. "But they need stable and reliable funding. They need to know that their budget can support multi-year grants. They need to be able to tell young researchers that the United States government values them and will support their work in years to come. The Biomedical Innovation Fund is a commitment to NIH science and research, and an investment in the health of American families and the future of our next generation of scientists and innovators. I will keep fighting, putting my shoulder to the wheel, my nose to the grindstone and my feet on the ground for NIH."

"As a longstanding supporter of NIH, I believe government plays an important role in facilitating the scientific and medical research that leads to better medical treatments for Americans," Senator Sanders said. "The work of NIH is of great benefit to the health of people throughout the world, and I am pleased to support this legislation."

"Investing in NIH research has the potential to save and improve lives by giving patients and their families hope for a cure," Senator Casey said. "We want the cures of the future to be found in America, not outside our country. We can make that a reality but only if we invest in the basic scientific research that leads to cures."

"Each year, Minnesota's academic and medical institutions make discoveries that benefit people across the entire world, while creating high-quality jobs at home," said Senator Franken. "We need to remain on the cutting-edge of research and development, and this legislation will give NIH and FDA the tools they need to develop treatments and prevent disease. As a member of the Senate Health Committee, I'll continue fighting to ensure that strong investments are made in medical research and innovation."

"Researchers and life science companies in Colorado and around the globe are developing new cures and treatments that can save and lengthen lives.  The bill will support the research that makes those breakthroughs possible and help us save even more lives," Senator Bennet said.

"The research conducted at our national labs has led to some of the greatest medical breakthroughs of our time, and it holds the promise of unlocking future treatments," said Senator Whitehouse.  "Congress ought to help America's greatest minds make great discoveries.  The Biomedical Innovation Fund will support cutting-edge work, like the BRAIN Initiative and the neurological research underway at a number of Rhode Island institutions.  Let's give our best researchers the tools they need to take the next big steps in biomedical science."

"Wisconsin has a long tradition of being a national leader on biomedical research and innovation, so I am proud to support this legislation," said Senator Baldwin‎. "Strengthening our investments in both NIH and FDA is absolutely essential to advance our shared goals to promote lifesaving cures and help grow America's innovation economy."

"To see a loved one suffer from a cruel disease like cancer or Alzheimer's is to know true helplessness. When facing loss or suffering, there's nothing each of us wouldn't do for a cure, for more ‘good' days, or simply more time," said Senator Murphy. "By passing this bill and giving the world's greatest minds the resources they need to learn more about - and ultimately cure - deadly diseases, we can provide hope to millions of families. The lifesaving research we do today at institutions like Yale and University of Connecticut will lead to life-changing innovation and hopefully prevent our kids from confronting that same, heart wrenching feeling of helplessness."

The National Biomedical Research Act would create the Biomedical Innovation Fund, a new fund designed specifically to provide predictable investments in life-saving biomedical research conducted by leading scientists at the nation's top research institutions. The funding would support specific initiatives such as Vice President Biden's National Cancer Moonshot initiative, the Precision Medicine Initiative, grants for young emerging scientists, and other breakthrough research that will help accelerate the development and approval of new medicines, improve prevention, and increase understanding of life-threatening diseases. Right now, NIH rejects  nine of eleven grant proposals, one of the highest rejection rates in history and far below the 1/3 rate called for by agency leaders, because of a lack of resources. Predictability of funding for biomedical research will create stability for researchers and accelerate the pace of scientific advancements.