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Barbara M.
Democrat MD

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  • Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

    by Senator Barbara A. Mikulski

    Posted on 2015-01-29

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    MIKULSKI (for herself and Mr. Cardin): S. 318. A bill to prioritize funding for the National Institutes of Health to discover treatments and cures, to maintain global leadership in medical innovation, and to restore the purchasing power the NIH had after the historic doubling campaign that ended in fiscal year 2003; to the Committee on the Budget.

    Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, today I am introducing the Accelerating Biomedical Research Act.

    The bill allows more funding for the National Institutes of Health by allowing NIH funding to grow even while we continue to live under austere funding caps.

    NIH funding has been a bipartisan effort working with Democrats-- Senators Kennedy and Harkin, as well as Republicans--Senators Hatfield and Specter. We successfully fought to double NIH's budget from $13.6 billion in 1998 to over $30 billion today. We supported it to speed the transition of discoveries from science to treatment and maintain America's global competitiveness.

    But the NIH budget hasn't kept up with inflation. Its budget has been growing, but slowly. That means the NIH budget buys 20 percent less than what it did when the doubling was completed in 2003. Which means we are missing out. Missing out on potential treatments, potential breakthroughs, potential cures. We have no shortage of ideas. Scientists have ideas but they cannot test them without funding. What is the solution? We need to redouble our commitment to medical research. This bill creates a 6-year plan to put NIH back on stable ground. It is steady growth, it is predictable, and it is fiscally sound.

    The bill allows for new spending for NIH that does not count against the strict budget caps. So we can put more money into cures without taking it away from other compelling human needs funded within the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill.

    Why NIH? Why should we have new spending for NIH when other spending is stagnant or being cut? Personally, I would lift the sequester caps. I think they are doing real harm, but I recognize we do not all agree on that. I think we do all agree that NIH research is worth increasing because it both helps the economy and saves lives.

    First, let me talk about how NIH helps the economy. The NIH is a world-class institution. I call it the National Institutes of Hope, serving as the foundation for U.S. medical innovation which employs 1 million U.S. citizens, including 19,000 at NIH and 14,000 NIH employees who live in Maryland. NIH generates $84 billion in wages and salaries, exports $90 billion in goods and services. Every dollar we invest in NIH generates $2-$3 in economic activity. Every patent NIH generates provides the foundation for 8 private sector patents. In 2013, products built on licensed NIH and FDA inventions reported a total of $7 billion in sales. Investing in NIH is good for our economy But I do not call NIH the National Institutes of Hope because of its economic impact. NIH gives hope because of its human impact. Just look at what we have done with Federal investments in NIH, cutting the cancer death rate by 11 percent in women and 19 percent in men. HIV/ AIDS is no longer a death sentence. Polio and small pox are essentially eradicated in this country.

    These medical breakthroughs did not just happen. They occurred because our government supported the NIH. And because the NIH supported dedicated scientists seeking knowledge and medical breakthroughs.

    And now, that support is being eroded.

    I have heard the American people say, they want Congress to be frugal. But I haven't heard anyone say: ``Let's [[Page S657]] delay finding a way to prevent Alzheimer's'' or ``Let's encourage our young scientists to work abroad'' or ``Let's put a hold on finding a cure for cancer'' or ``Let's discourage our universities from researching treatments for rare pediatric tumors''.

    I am for being frugal but we must not jeopardize or hamper America as the gold standard, as the worldwide leader in medical research and innovation.

    I am for being frugal but not at the expense of the next generation of scientists and the health of American families.

    Discovery is the genius of our country. When President Jefferson commissioned Lewis and Clark to find water route to the Pacific, the mission was called discovery. Discovery is part of our Nation's DNA. It is what makes this Nation great.

    To have innovation we must have discovery. This requires: Investing in our human capital, educating our people, and funding their research. That is why I support funding for NIH. And that is why I am introducing the Accelerating Biomedical Research Act today.

    I hope my colleagues will agree and support this bill.

    ______ By Ms. MURKOWSKI (for herself and Mr. Sullivan): S. 319. A bill to designate a mountain in the State of Alaska as Mount Denali; to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

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