NIH dodges a budget bullet

A version of the compromise budget deal for the remainder of this fiscal year has been released.

This is the bill that the House and Senate are supposed to pass this week, and that President Obama must sign by Friday to prevent the Federal Government from shutting down.

Originally, Republicans were aiming to cut the NIH budget by $1.6 billion. In this new bill it looks like NIH will escape that fate, but its budget will be reduced by $260 million. Not exactly good news, but let’s just say it could have been far worse.  Of the proposed $260 million in cuts, $50 million would come from the funds for buildings and facilities, while $210 million would come from research funding.

Because Congressional bills for FY2011 and FY2012 are both now out there, there remains some confusion as to which cuts would occur when, but the $260 million figure seems to apply to the current year.

Consistent with this notion, according to Science (read here) the cut for the remainder of FY2011 (the current year) would only be 1% for NIH. NSF appears slated for a similar cut. In the article, they quote a science lobbyist, Michael Lubell, as saying:

“We dodged a bullet”

Also, Writedit is blogging and getting a lot of good comments about this situation here (scroll to the bottom of the comments section).

Hopefully, once this legislation is passed later this week, NIH can chart a clear path for its funding for the remainder of the fiscal year and more funding awards will be issued to keep biomedical science moving forward.