On March 20, 2013, the Senate completed action on H.R. 933 (Public Law 113-6), the Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013. The amended bill (the Mikulski-Shelby bill) will fund the government through September 30, 2013. The Senate passed the bill, by a vote of 73-26 and the House passed the bill, by a vote of 318 to 109, on March 21. The Senate added the full texts of three bills (Commerce-Justice-Science, Homeland Security, and Agriculture) to the House version of the Defense and Military Construction, and Veterans Affairs, and included a few floor amendments.
The bill provides funding authority for the last six months of FY 2013, through September 30, 2013, to allow all government agencies and programs, including NIH, to continue operating during that period, and it generally continues the authorities and conditions on such funding that were included in individual FY 2012 appropriations laws. Departments and agencies would not be allowed to initiate or resume any project or activity that was not funded or authorized for FY 2012. It also continues the federal employee pay freeze from the House (H.R. 933) through the remainder of calendar year 2013.
For NIH, the bill includes language requiring the Director of NIH to contract with the Institute of Medicine to study the methodology underlying the National Children’s Study. It states: “Provided further, That the Director shall contract with the National Academy of Sciences within 60 days of enactment of this Act to appoint an expert Institute of Medicine/National Research Council (IOM/NRC) panel to conduct a comprehensive review and issue a report regarding proposed methodologies for the NCS Main Study, including whether such methodologies are likely to produce scientifically sound results that are generalizable to the US population and appropriate sub-populations: Provided further, That no contracts shall be awarded for conducting the Main Study until at least 60 days after the IOM/NRC report has been available to the public:..’’
It also states: “Provided further, That $165,000,000 shall be for the National Children’s Study (NCS), except that not later than July 15, 2013, the Director shall estimate the amount needed for the NCS during fiscal year 2013, taking into account the succeeding provision, and any funds in excess of the estimated need shall be transferred to, and merged with, the accounts for the various Institutes and Centers of NIH in proportion to their shares of total NIH appropriations made by this Act.” [See NIA Budget Report]
On May 15, Dr. Francis Collins, Director, NIH, testified before the Senate Labor, HHS, Education Subcommittee [Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chair] about the President’s FY2014 Budget. He was accompanied by Drs. Harold Varmus, Director, NCI; Anthony Fauci, Director, NIAID; Gary Gibbons, Director, NHLBI; Story Landis, Director, NINDS; and Richard Hodes, Director, NIA.
On March 20, at the request of Kim Lipsky, Staff Director, Senate Special Committee on Aging, Dr. Hodes briefed the Aging Committee staff on Alzheimer’s disease and other aging research.
On February 20, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), the new Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, came to NIH for a tour and held a press event to discuss the impact of sequestration. Dr. Hodes was invited to join Senator Mikulski, Dr. Collins and other NIH IC directors in a luncheon discussion.
Tamara Jones, Ph.D.
National Institute on Aging