November 11, 2020
The Lupus Research Alliance is pleased to share details of the 2021 spending package announced by the U.S. Senate last night with several potential “wins” for lupus research. While not 100% in line with our requests, funding for lupus research is substantial and due in large part to the hard work of our advocates back in March. While we couldn’t visit members of Congress, your calls and emails made the voice of the lupus community heard throughout the Capitol — thank you!
Following summarizes the details of the Senate bill and its status in the overall federal budget appropriations process:
DoD Lupus Research Program
By tradition, the House version of the Defense Appropriations report carries prescriptive amounts to be spent on peer-reviewed medical research, and met LRA’s request of $10 million this year. The Senate report contains an overall funding level of $370 million for peer-reviewed medical research programs, but does not specify individual amounts for specific programs. When the House and Senate conference, the bills and reports are reconciled to be consistent and uniform. Usually, the Senate accepts the House-proposed levels for the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP), which would mean the $10 million for lupus will likely stand if the bills are passed.
The Senate bill contains a provision noting the growth of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) and directing the Comptroller General to conduct a review to ensure research is coordinated with NIH, to avoid duplication. It also notes that the Department of Defense is capable of executing the higher funding levels. While this does not appear to be cause for immediate concern, it indicates policymakers’ interest in ensuring the program’s growth is justified and appropriate.
National Institutes of Health
LRA requested a $3 billion increase for NIH for a total of $44.7 billion. The Senate version of the Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations bill would provide $43.68 billion, a $2 billion increase. This is less than the $5.5 billion increase ($47 billion total) in the House bill.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
LRA requested a $120 million increase for FDA. The Senate version of the Agriculture Appropriations Act would increase FDA funding by $40 million, roughly equivalent to the House bill’s $41 million increase.
The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have begun the process of conferencing their bills and hope to reach an agreement to enact all 12 annual Appropriations bills by December 11th. There are significant political hurdles to reaching such an agreement, but we will do everything we can to make sure lupus priorities are addressed. We will keep you posted as this process continues to unfold.