To prevent a third government shutdown and end the debate over government spending that started in October, Congress recently passed a spending bill of approximately $1.3 trillion dollars in March 23, 2018(3). The FY2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill was designed to outline the appropriations that government agencies will receive for the 2018 fiscal year. There are many portions of the 1,000+ page bill that will have an impact upon American society, but the increase in spending for scientific research and public health incentives came as a shock to many as it directly contrasts comments made by the White House’s comments made early in the administration. These remarks pertained to creating a so-called “skinny budget” that would make deep cuts to a variety of governmentally funded research agencies (4). After a year of fearing extreme governmental cuts, the FY2018 released a bill that has increased to the “highest point ever in inflation-adjusted dollars… Basic and applied research funding [receiving] its largest year-over-year increase” since 2009 (3). Now that the bill is officially passed, researchers can begin determining what this bill will mean for future government funded research. To illustrate some of the effect of FY2018, appropriations are broken down by certain public health and research agencies (2, 5).
National Institutes of Health (NIH) – $37.1 billion. The purpose of this funding is to advance fundamental knowledge and the development of new therapies, diagnostics, and preventive measures of disease affecting the American people.
What the bill will fund:
- $1.8 billion for Alzheimer’s disease research
- $500 million for research on opioid addiction, development of opioids alternatives, pain management, and addiction treatment
- $400 million for the BRAIN Initiative to map the human brain
- $357.6 million for the Institutional Development Award
- $290 million for the All of US precision medicine study
- $513 million to Combat Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria
- $542.8 million for the Clinical and Translational Science Award
- $12.6 million for the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act
- $100 million for research on the universal flu vaccine
Differences with FY2017: Overall NIH funding increased $3 billion, or 8.8 percent, compared to FY2017. There was a $414 million increase in Alzheimer’s research; a $140 million increase in BRAIN Initiative; a $17.2 million increase in Institutional Development Award; a $60 million increase All of US prescription medicine study; a $50 million increase to Combat Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria; a $26.7 million increase Clinical and Translational Science Award (2, 5).
Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention Biosafety Level (BSL) 4 Laboratory–$480 million— This is the total cost of a replacement BSL4, high containment laboratory, which is essential to replace the current CDC lab and continue research on the deadliest pathogens that require a BSL4 environment, like Ebola (2, 5).
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – more than $2.9 billion in discretionary funding for the FDA. Total FDA funding is $5.138 billion, including user fee revenues.
What the bill will fund:
- $94 million is provided to combat the opioid epidemic
- $10.5 million is provided for food safety activities
- $15 million is provided for the Oncology Center of Excellence
- $60 million to fund the 21st Century Cures Act
Differences with the FY2017: The total FDA funding level is $483 million above FY2017 (2, 5).
Global Health Programs – $8.7 billion for Global Health Programs
What will the bill fund:
- Global Health Security
- Polio Eradication
- Maternal and Child Health
- Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)
Differences with FY2017: There is a $110 million increase in funding compared to the FY2017 enacted level (including repurposed Ebola funds). However, the total provided funding for HIV/AIDS assistance, Polio Eradication, combating Malaria, and Neglected Tropical Disease research are equal to FY2017 (2, 5).
This bill also permits the CDC to study the effects of gun violence, which has large implications for health research in the United States. Since 1996, in the so-called “Dickey Amendment”, research in the area of injury prevention and gun control at the CDC had not been allowed to study gun violence. This was reinforced again in the Appropriations Act of 2012 (1). This research may add critical and important evidence to the current gun control debates.
The trillions of dollars in appropriations allocated to FY2018 are important to take note of for any field, as it reflects the interest of the federal government. The investment of funds shows the tide of attention for particular ailments and diseases to our nation. It is important as public health researchers and officials to understand where the attention of the lawmakers lies because without the attention and funding from the government, public health work will not be impactful within their communities. As advocates for the health of the nation and the globe, we need to be advocates for our funding and resources.
- Dooley, Erin. “Spending Bill Will Stipulate CDC Can Study Gun Violence.” ABC News, ABC News Network, 21 Mar. 2018, abcnews.go.com/Politics/spending-bill-stipulate-cdc-study-gun-violence/story?id=53920156.
- NEWS Desk. “Infectious Diseases in the FY2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.” Outbreak News Today, Outbreak News Today, 25 Mar. 2018, outbreaknewstoday.com/infectious-diseases-fy2018-omnibus-appropriations-bill-97337/
- Science News Staff. “Trump, Congress Approve Largest U.S. Research Spending Increase in a Decade.” Science | AAAS, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 23 Mar. 2018, www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/03/updated-us-spending-deal-contains-largest-research-spending-increase-decade?utm_source=newsfromscience&utm_medium=facebook-text&utm_campaign=2018budget-18516.
- Science News Staff. “What's in Trump's 2018 Budget Request for Science?” Science | AAAS, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 26 July 2017, www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/05/what-s-trump-s-2018-budget-request-science.
- United States Congress. “Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2018.” Congress.gov Resources , 23 Mar. 2018, www.congress.gov/resources/display/content/Appropriations+for+Fiscal+Year+2018.