A House of Representatives version of a 2012 spending bill, which would set next year's budgets for federal research agencies under the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), contains a proposal to trim the maximum amount a principle investigator on a grant from one of those agencies can receive. The draft bill, which was submitted in late September, would ratchet down the maximum salary on grantees receiving funds from the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other DHHS agencies from $199,700 to $165,300, a drop of about 17 percent. The Senate version of the 2012 DHHS spending bill leaves the salary cap unchanged, even though it proposes cutting the overall NIH budget by $190 million.
The potential salary cap adjustment has research institutions worried that they may have to find other ways to fund their investigators' full salaries. "If you are a research-intensive institution and you're talking about hundreds of faculty where you have to make up this difference, we're talking about millions of dollars the institution is now responsible for," David Moore, senior director for governmental relations at the Association of American Medical Colleges, told Nature.
Congress will have to reach some consensus on the provisions contained in the House and Senate versions of the legislation before passing the final 2012 DHHS spending bill, a move that is expected by the end of this year or early next.