The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) has recommended that Congress continue strong growth for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to sustain and expand on the extraordinary progress in medical research that has been set in motion during the past 5 years as a result of the substantial increased funding provided by Congress for the nation’s biomedical research enterprise. However, adequate and sustained budgetary growth for the NIH is in jeopardy. The Administration proposed $27.7 billion for the NIH in its FY 2004 budget request, an increase of $681 million over FY 2003 funding. This 2.5 percent increase is greatly inadequate and will undoubtedly decrease and slow promising areas of biomedical research. Recently, the House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Committees reported bills that are similar to the Administration’s proposed funding level for NIH and provide overall 2.5 percent and 3.7 percent increases, respectively, for NIH in FY 2004. When Congress returns from its recess in July, these bills will be considered in the House and Senate.
ASM, as well as many other scientific and health organizations, have recommended that Congress approve a 10 percent increase in the FY 2004 budget for the NIH to bring the level of funding to $30 billion. A 10 percent increase for the NIH budget will improve its ability to capitalize on the substantial achievements of the past 5 years and enhance its ability to seize scientific opportunities to advance national health and security. Fortunately, the robust levels of budgetary support for the NIH over the past 5 years have produced medical and technological advances that serve public health as well as the defense of the nation and the world.
It is very important that Congress hear from the scientific community about the need to provide an increase for NIH that will continue to strengthen and expand the momentum of biomedical research and innovation that is in the public interest. Please contact your Senators and Representative as soon as possible to support a 10 percent increase for NIH in FY 2004. Links to the ASM testimony on the NIH budget, a sample letter and the ASM Legislative Communications Site which will assist you to contact your legislators by inputting your zip code and selecting the NIH message (which you may edit), is available in the left hand column of this page.