For the first time in 22 years, the NIH, and most of the other Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies, will head into fiscal 2019 fully funded – that is if President Donald Trump signs off on the $855.1 billion bill the House passed Wednesday to fund the departments of Defense, Labor, HHS and Education.
Rather than engage in partisan bickering, House Appropriations leaders from both parties gave Oscar-esque speeches before the 361-61 vote on H.R. 6157, thanking each other and their staffs as they celebrated the historic occasion. "Today marks a victory in the return to regular order," Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said, echoing the sentiments of other members of the House Appropriations Committee.
If the president signs the bill by midnight Sunday, at least three-quarters of the federal government will have full funding Monday when fiscal 2019 begins. The rest of the government, including the FDA, will likely be kept open through a continuing resolution that was added to H.R. 6157. The stopgap measure will expire Dec. 7.
Both House and Senate appropriators had hoped to agree yet this week to a conference report on a final spending package to fund the FDA and the few remaining departments. But as Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) noted how wonderful it was to be voting on funding in September, he said it looked like the continuing resolution would go into effect for the few agencies and departments covered by the final minibus.
Passed by the Senate last week with a 93-7 vote, H.R. 6157 includes a $2 billion boost in research funding for the NIH and $6.7 billion for responding to the opioid crisis, with a focus on prevention, treatment and education.
The bill also includes money for a rapid emergency disease fund, which will allow HHS to respond to infectious disease outbreaks without having to wait for Congress to vote on funding.