On June, 10, 2014, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies approved the fiscal year 2015 appropriations bill which contains funding for AFSP Federal Policy Priorities including Garrett Lee Smith suicide prevention programs, suicide prevention research, and mental health first aid.
The bill provides for $156,773,000,000 in base discretionary budget authority, preserving the FY 2014 level. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) cuts experienced under the sequester are reversed, and the NIH receives a $605 million increase. This increase includes an additional $60 million in funds for the Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, for a total of $100 million for the BRAIN Initiative’s second year. A $100 million increase to the National Institute on Aging, along with enough provisions to for the NIH to double Alzheimer’s funding “if the science warrants it,” were also among the allocations mentioned by Subcommittee Chairman Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA).
During the markup, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) underscored the need for robust NIH funding. He remarked that NIH is now funding 22% fewer research grants than it did ten years ago, because NIH appropriations have not kept pace with the rate of inflation. He stated, “We cannot continue to shortchange research. Francis Collins (the current director of NIH) said five percent of real growth over inflation is the way to restore the growth in research at NIH…thirty years ago, 19 percent of NIH researchers were under age 36 – today, 3 percent. Young researchers have given up on the NIH. That is heartbreaking. The only way to restore their confidence in NIH careers is to make NIH investments.”