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

By | November 14, 2007

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. Bob Grant mail@the-scientist.com Links within this article: B. Grant, "Bush vetoes NIH funding bill," The Scientist, November 2007. http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53855/ B. Grant, "Congress passes NIH budget boosting bill," The Scientist, November 2007. http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53852/ White House Press Release, "President Bush Visits Indiana, Discusses Budget" http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/11/20071113-7.html The Library of Congress, THOMAS legislative database http://thomas.loc.gov/ The National Institutes of Health, "The NIH Almanac - Appropriations" http://www.nih.gov/about/almanac/appropriations/part2.htm A. Gawrylewski, "Senate passes bill with open access provision," The Scientist, October 2007. http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53746/ A. Gawrylewski, "Senate open access mandate at risk," The Scientist, October 2007. http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53721/ S. Pincock, "Tool allows open-access search," The Scientist, June 2004. http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/22214/


Avatar of: Brian Hanley

Brian Hanley

Posts: 11

November 14, 2007

I am writing to urge you to override the Bush veto of H.R.3043 = the NIH funding bill. The NIH, like most of the basic sciences has been shown to have a highly positive ROI. So this spending is intelligent spending, equivalent to business investment, and expanding it reasonably should be supported by conservatives. \n\nThe House maintains a web site to hear from constituents. http://www.house.gov/writerep/ \n\nFor those with an interest, ( http://antioch.rice.edu/etrac/grid/roi.html) has a decent overview of ROI in government science R&D.
Avatar of: Russ Keenan

Russ Keenan

Posts: 1

November 14, 2007

In response to Mr. Hanley's comment, if the proposed NIH spending is indeed "intelligent spending," then it should be capable of attracting venture capital and private investment on its own merit without the support of government largess. Contrary to Mr. Hanley's claim that such spending "should be supported by conservatives," we conservatives do not believe that other people's hard earned tax dollars should be spent on anything "equivalent to business investment," as that is the purview of private capital. I applaud President Bush for his veto and ask the Congress to uphold it.
Avatar of: XYZ


Posts: 34

November 14, 2007

Recently i had opportunity to work in USA Universitiy for two years. I worked for 4 months in one and the rest of the period in another university.\nIt was shocking to see the absolute lack of science or commitment for science in the first lab (where i was for four months)\nThe lab PI was with pocket full of funding, and it was evident that the NIH funding can be obtained with many other ways then science alone! In the other Univ. where i spend 20 months was better then this but still i see the lack of complete and genuine interests in science among the most of the scientsts, I feel that the cut in NIH budget is essential to remove such scientists from the system! But the million dollar question is the cut in NIH budget will result in removal of average scientists or removal of the bright scientists from the system?\nI am refraining to give my name only because otherwise it will be easy to find out from google search which universities i am talking about.\n\n
Avatar of: Annette Appleby

Annette Appleby

Posts: 1

November 15, 2007

Dear Mr. Keenan,\n\nAre you also prepared to refuse all new medical treatments and therapies developed with the help of NIH money the next time you or a family member visits the hospital for an emergency? Medical research and development benefit society as a whole and that is why the taxpayers share in their support. For the benefit of all of society, a $1 billion increase in research funding is small potatoes in comparison to the nearly $25 billion (out of a total of $600 billion spent) "of other people's hard earned tax dollars" that Congressional hearings and Pentagon audits have documented to have been lost, unaccounted for, mismanaged, overcharged, and just plain wasted in Iraq. I don't believe Pres. Bush vetoed any of those spendings in order to put on a show of being fiscally responsible with the taxpayers money. In fact he asked for and received another $200 billion in funding for Iraq in 2008, a great deal of which will be spent with no further oversight. Somehow the veto of a funding increase for the NIH, the spending of every cent of which must be justified in grant proposals many times over, makes him and his supporters look terribly small and piddling by comparison.
Avatar of: Sue Sip

Sue Sip

Posts: 2

November 15, 2007

More research funds from the Federal Government would be great. But, I don't think that the title "Bush Vetoes NIH Budget Increase" is exactly accurate. H.B.3043 "carried a request for a total of $150.7 billion." That means that 99% of these funds are NOT for the NIH budget. "Bush has voiced opposition to what he sees as pork and unnecessary earmarking in the bill..." Maybe we should be looking beyond our own desires and asking our representatives to clean up this bill. I'm with Bush on this one, I also hate a bill full of 'pork.'
Avatar of: C. R. Pelchat

C. R. Pelchat

Posts: 1

November 15, 2007

Please ? stop insulting the intelligence of your readers. The headline for this article ?Bush vetoes NIH budget increase? is misleading and inflammatory. Bush vetoed H.R. 3043, which is a funding bill for the Departments of Labor, Health, Human Services and Education. Yes, the NIH budget is buried in the bill, but it is a mere 0.7% of the total funding the bill addresses. Its true that the article mentions these facts within the text, but the tone of the article suggests that Bush is against increasing NIH funding and specifically vetoed it on this point alone. This is just not true ? he is against pork-barrel-spending, which H.R. 3034 is jammed packed with.\n\nHere?s what the president said about his veto; ?This bill is 44 days late and nearly $10 billion over budget, and filled with more than 2,000 earmarks. Some of its wasteful projects include a prison museum, a sailing school taught aboard a catamaran, and a "Portuguese as a second language" program. Congress owes the taxpayers much better than this effort. And so today in the Oval Office I vetoed this bill. (Applause.) Congress needs to cut out that pork, reduce the spending, and send me a responsible measure that I can sign into law.?\n\nI think he called this one right. Congress needs to get its act together and quit playing politics.\n
Avatar of: Herbert Kaine

Herbert Kaine

Posts: 1

November 15, 2007

Perhaps a separate bill could be introduced to increase the NIH budget. In terms of the earlier comment on venture capital, it doesnt work that way. Venture capitalists, desipte the name, are risk averse, and pull funds from projects they have promised to support at a moments notice. Thus, venture capital is not compatible with long term development. Also, venture capital is only interested once a product has proven benefits in humans, but is unwilling to fund the research required to get to that late stage. I know this from personal experience
Avatar of: Jayne M

Jayne M

Posts: 2

November 15, 2007

I surely don't know how 30 billion out of 150 billion equals 0.7%! As I see it, it's about a fifth, or 20%.\nAnyway, as was stated before, grants from NIH require 100's of pages of data and justifications to get approved, and even then there is no guarantee that you'll get funded. There are regular checks and updates that have to be filed and reviewed yearly to keep getting the money over the span of the grant, and the principle investigators spend many hours on this paperwork. Progress on a project must be backed up with data and publications. Show me this type of "oversight" in any of the TRILLIONS of dollars going to Iraq, resulting in what: a ruined country, more enemies than we ever had before, and 10s of thousands of our own young people coming home maimed and tormented! Plus, most of this research money is going to pay the salaries of many of our citizens, buy instrumentation and chemicals from many American companies, and in the end benefit the public. Show me a better investment in America.\nI have worked in medical research for 36 years, both at major medical schools, and in pharmaceutical research, and I tell you, there is tremendous waste in industry, but not in academia; most academic researchers would be thrilled to have a tenth of the equipment that pharma literally throws in the trash. Wonder why drugs are so expensive?\nRight now, even at the top universities, 2 out of 3 previous grants are not being renewed, because there is no funding for it. Young researchers graduating with their PhDs are not finding jobs in academia or industry, after spending up to 8 years getting that degree. Is that cost effective? When we train and employ these people, they work to cure our diseases, pay taxes and buy goods, cycling the money back into our own economy, benefiting everyone: an excellent use of our tax dollars.\n
Avatar of: j salerno

j salerno

Posts: 24

November 16, 2007

It is nonsense to pretend that the president doesn't intend to cut the NIH budget. He has cut it every year since invading Iraq. He specifically proposed cutting the NIH budget again this year, and his blanket veto threat covered any increase, no matter how modest, over his proposal. The 'increase' proposed by Congress may not even cover the real inflation rate for this year. \n The US won't automatically be among the most advanced countries in the world in the next few decades. Why don't we waste another twenty years waiting for venture capitalists to pick up the slack? Compare what we spend on innovation with what we waste on counterproductive neocon crusades. This country has wasted the last six years while China, Japan and Europe moved forward.
Avatar of: Katharine Baker

Katharine Baker

Posts: 1

November 17, 2007

Why would President Bush single out a Portuguese-as-a-second-language center as a particularly egregious example of what he deems pork-barrel spending? If he's as dedicated to quality education as he claims while promoting his No Child Left Behind agenda, you'd think he'd want to promote (rather than mock) the teaching of foreign languages, especially in a world where international trade is becoming increasingly common.\n\nThe Portuguese language center in question was is located in Rhode Island, home state to one of the US's most significant concentrations of both Portuguese and Brazilian immigrants -- so such a program is necessary and useful in training locals to communicate with these immigrants in order to help them transition into American life.\n\nYou might be surprised to learn that Portuguese is the third-most spoken European language in the world, after only English and Spanish -- but ahead of Russian, French, German and Italian, which are much more commonly taught. Among the nations where Portugese is spoken are (by far) Brazil, as well as Angola, Mozambique and a number of other smaller former Portuguese colonies throughout the world, as well as Portugal (obviously). So I don't find Portuguese a frivolous choice for a language center -- I doubt its purpose is just to prepare American tourists for their summer vacations in the Azores (not that there's anything wrong with that!).\n\nDo you think it's just that Bush finds something inherently amusing (or offensive) about Portugueseness? Or that he thinks we Portuguese-Americans are too timid to fight back? Or maybe he's pandering to the Republican party's base, which hates the Kennedys (since this appropriation was sponsored by Congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of Ted).\n\nOf course, Bush is also the guy who was surprised during his visit to Brazil to discover there were Blacks there, so maybe he thinks Brazilians speak (or ought to speak) Spanish.\n\nSincerely, KFB\nhttp://www.inolongerlikechocolates.com/author_translators.htm\n
Avatar of: XXX


Posts: 1

November 25, 2007

The above says it all.. I am sure it is not just limited to NIH funding...\n\nUS is in trouble...

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