July 24, 2014–APLU President Peter McPherson today released the following statement regarding the expected introduction this afternoon of U.S. Senator Tom Harkin’s (D-IA), Accelerating Biomedical Research Act. The legislation would largely safeguard funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from severe budget cuts in Washington, including sequestration.
“We applaud Senator Harkin for his leadership and vision in crafting the Accelerating Biomedical Research Act, which would accelerate critical medical breakthroughs and cures for diseases such as cancer, HIV, and Alzheimer’s and help close our country’s innovation deficit.
“Throughout its modern history, the United States has been the world leader in biomedical advancements, with many of those breakthroughs occurring at public research universities. Recent budget battles in Washington have become increasingly divisive. The funding cuts to NIH resulting from the Budget Control Act, including sequestration, have jeopardized the United States’ ability to maintain its leading position in biomedical research and are contributing to a growing innovation deficit. Not only do these funding cuts delay these medical advancements, but they risk ceding the enormous economic benefits associated with these breakthroughs to other countries such as China, Singapore, and Korea. Senator Harkin’s bill would help ensure that future lifesaving innovations emerge in U.S. laboratories and are developed by U.S. companies.
“By allowing for the overall budget caps imposed by Congress to adjust for NIH, Senator Harkin has identified a responsible way for biomedical research levels to grow while the slow moving debate over the rest of the budget continues. The medical needs of the nation and the world simply cannot wait for a long-term budget deal that unfortunately seems unlikely to happen anytime soon.”