Congress returns to work today after a 2-week recess, and a top priority for House of Representatives and Senate Republican leaders is reconciling their versions of a largely symbolic but politically sensitive budget plan. Many research advocates are watching the machinations closely.
Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) made an extraordinary pitch to his one-time colleagues this week as they head into tense government funding negotiations this summer. If they want to secure increases in defense spending, he said, they should dramatically increase funding for biomedical research -- and put it all on the nation's credit card.
No one who lived through the 1990s would have suspected that one day people would look back on the period as a golden age of bipartisan cooperation. But in some important ways, it was. Amid the policy fights that followed the Republican victories of 1994, President Bill Clinton and the new majorities in Congress reached one particularly good deal: doubling the budget for the National Institutes of Health.
The current budget and appropriations process coupled with a lack of consensus among policymakers on how to address our long-term fiscal challenges makes it seemingly impossible to deliver the level of funding for biomedical research that the American public overwhelmingly supports.
From 2004 to 2012, the rate of investment in medical research in the U.S. declined, while there has been an increase in research investment globally, particularly in Asia, according to a study in the January 13 issue of JAMA.
With few significant legislative achievements for science and innovation in the 113th Congress, we look to the new Congress to fuel the momentum needed for medical progress.