Bush vetoes NIH budget increase
Bill also included provision requiring NIH-funded researchers to submit published papers to an open access database after one year
US President George W. Bush on Tuesday (Nov 13) vetoed
a spending bill that aimed to boost federal funding for the National Institutes of Health. The bill, which was passed
by Congress last week, sought to increase NIH funding by about $1 billion from a 2007 budget of about $29 billion to a 2008 budget of about $30 billion.
In a statement
released by the White House after Bush vetoed the bill, the president decried the Democrat-led Congress for engaging in what he called a "spending spree," and said that the legislative majority was "acting like a teenager with a new credit card."
The bill, H.R.3043
, also sought to bolster the budgets of the departments of Labor and Education, and carried a request for a total of $150.7 billion. Since its introduction in July, Bush has said he would veto the bill because it overshot his own budget recommendations.
"We were hoping that [Bush's veto] wouldn't be the case," Carrie Wolinetz, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) spokesperson, told The Scientist
. "But the threat had been there."
The NIH budget has been stagnant
over the past few years, with government funding increasing by only about $1.4 billion between 2003 and 2006.
The vetoed bill also included a provision requiring
NIH-funded researchers to post the full text of their research papers on the National Library of Medicine's publicly accessible PubMed Central website within a year of publication. This provision survived an attack
by Republican Senator James Inhofe in October to remain intact in the final version of the bill sent to the president.
The bill cleared the House of Representatives only three votes shy of the two-thirds majority it would have needed to avoid Bush's veto. As H.R.3043 returns to Capitol Hill, where legislators will hold a veto override vote, Wolinetz said that FASEB will continue encouraging its 80,000-strong membership to urge their legislators to support the bill and overturn the presidential veto.
"We are working currently to mobilize our society of member scientists in hope of giving some support for the override vote," she said.
If Bush's veto of the bill is not overridden by Congress, it will be renegotiated, and legislators will vote on the funding package again. Open access advocate Peter Suber
said that even in the face of these potential renegotiations, the open access provision in the bill is likely to remain unchanged. "If they have to revise the appropriation," he told The Scientist
, "then I'm optimistic that the open access provision will survive intact."
Bush has voiced opposition to what he sees as pork and unnecessary earmarking in the bill, but has not been strongly opposed to the open access provision. "This seems to be small potatoes to the president," Suber said.
Wolinetz added that she hopes lawmakers will conduct the veto override vote before Congress recesses for the Thanksgiving holiday next week, but that getting the override through the House and Senate would be a challenge.
Congress did, however, override Bush's veto of another appropriations bill, the popular Water Resources Development Act, earlier this month.
Links within this article:
B. Grant, "Bush vetoes NIH funding bill," The Scientist
, November 2007.
B. Grant, "Congress passes NIH budget boosting bill," The Scientist
, November 2007.
White House Press Release, "President Bush Visits Indiana, Discusses Budget"
The Library of Congress, THOMAS legislative database
The National Institutes of Health, "The NIH Almanac - Appropriations"
A. Gawrylewski, "Senate passes bill with open access provision," The Scientist
, October 2007.
A. Gawrylewski, "Senate open access mandate at risk," The Scientist
, October 2007.
S. Pincock, "Tool allows open-access search," The Scientist
, June 2004.