Ever since President Reagan took office, the NIH budget has been a political football—artificially low requests handed off by the president have crossed the goal line as sizable increases in the final appropriations measure passed by Congress. But that tradition could end this year. The Reagan request for a small 6.8% increase over this year’s budget is being taken seriously on Capitol Hill, and it appears likely that the final figures for NIH will be only slightly higher. In June, the House approved a bill to add $60 million to the administration’s request for $7.122 billion, earmarking it for more than a dozen non-AIDS programs across the institutes. The Senate appropriations committee later added $77 million, including an additional $31 million (on top of the president’s $588 million request) for AIDS programs, as part of its own laundry list of special programs. The House bill also calls for 300 new...

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