Congress and the Bush Administration are in the final stages of negotiations over the FY 2004 budgets for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Advocates seeking a larger increase for education programs are pushing a proposal to increase funding for Pell Grants by reducing the proposed increase for NIH and NIMH.
Congress is moving to complete work on a massive $285 billion year-end "omnibus" FY 2004 spending bill that includes funding for mental illness research at the NIMH. House and Senate leaders have agreed to a 3.7% overall increase for the NIH as recommended by the Senate. This would include the larger increase for the NIMH recommended by the Senate in their FY 2004 Labor-HHS Appropriations bill (S 1356) -- an increase of $58.9 million, up to $1.4 billion.
However, congressional sources have indicated that there may be a last minute move to cut NIH funding. In working out the final details of the omnibus spending package, House and Senate leaders are considering an additional increase for Pell Grants at the Education Department that would be funded through use of an "offsetting" cut in NIH funding (including mental illness research at NIMH). Such an "offset" is needed because the requirement for President Bush and Congress to keep FY 2004 discretionary funding in this omnibus spending bill under previously agreed upon caps. NAMI strongly opposes this effort to take offsetting funds from NIH and NIMH. While NAMI is not opposed to additional funds for Pell Grants, NAMI believes that it is unfair to cut funds from medical research to finance this increase.
NAMI advocates are encouraged to call and e-mail their members of Congress to urge them to contact House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader Frist to demand that Congress include a full 3.7% increase for NIH and NIMH in FY 2004 (the full $1 billion increase recommended by the Senate). Congress is expected to complete the FY 2004 omnibus spending bill early next week. Because this short time frame, advocates are urged to contact members of Congress through phone calls and e-mail. All members of Congress can be reached at www.congress.org
Read NAMI's position paper and "talking points" on the proposed FY 2004 budget for the NIMH.