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Eric S.
Democrat CA 15

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  • The Decline in U.s. Research

    by Representative Eric Swalwell

    Posted on 2013-12-11

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    SWALWELL of California. Thank you. And I do wish to thank Ms. Speier, my neighbor across the San Mateo Bridge, for hosting this Special Order hour on NIH funding.

    This is not the first time I have had the opportunity to work with Ms. Speier on these issues. In fact, in my short year in Congress, Ms. Speier has hosted a number of different roundtables, informal and formal, on the importance of NIH funding, and it is appropriate for her district, having the birthplace of the United States' biotechnology research.

    But it is also important that we want the biotech research to stay in the South San Francisco area, to stay in the East Bay area. And the folks in the district who are making advances that will hopefully bend the health care cost curves are counting on the United States Congress to keep NIH funding from being cut. And actually, it is my hope that we can increase it.

    The cuts to the NIH mean that there are fewer opportunities right now for biomedical research in the United States. It means that the decline in funding is meaning that there are more promising paths outside the United States for the promising minds who are putting their careers into this research.

    Faculty at top universities across the country are reporting cutting labor spending by 7 percent and operating with skeleton staffs, severely limiting job opportunities for any researcher that would want to go into this field. Over 50 percent of university scientists surveyed by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology said that they had a colleague who had lost their job or expects to soon because of sequester cuts to NIH funding.

    Also, in the United States, while we have been cutting funding, even before the sequester, other countries are increasing and expanding up their biomedical engineering sectors. A study this year found that nearly 20 percent of scientists are considering moving their careers abroad.

    I have worked in my first year in Congress to support the NIH, signing on to a letter circulated by Representative Roybal-Allard from southern California supporting the NIH behavioral and social science research.

    I also signed on to a letter supported by Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Bill Young supporting research at NIH, including through the BRAIN Initiative and, finally, signed on to a letter to the Appropriations Committee asking for support for funding of NIH.

    This afternoon, I distributed a letter to my colleagues in the bipartisan United Solutions Caucus, a freshman group of 30 Republican and Democratic freshmen Members, and we are asking them to support this new compromise budget, not because it does what we want, because I would like to see NIH funding go up, but because it will roll back some of the sequester cuts and restore some of the funding at NIH.

    {time} 1800 In my district, Ms. Speier's district, and across California, scientists are counting on us to restore the NIH funding, to actually increase it with the long-term goal of using NIH funding--the technology and the research that we can put in to bend the health care cost curves. If we don't do that, we are going to continue to see the discretionary spending in the United States continue to contract, and nondiscretionary spending for Medicare costs and Medicaid costs will continue to rise and balloon unless we get a hold by putting funding and research dollars into what can control these diseases and ailments that people in our districts are suffering from. And that only happens by putting research dollars into NIH.

    So, again, I want to thank the gentlelady across the San Mateo bridge for her leadership on this issue.

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