Durbin Announces Illinois Health, Science, and Research Priorities Included in Omnibus Appropriations Bill

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced that the Consolidated and Further Appropriations Act of 2017 includes numerous health, science, and research priorities for the State of Illinois.  This is in stark contrast to President Trump’s proposed budget, which would have made drastic cuts to the Department of Energy and the Department of Health and Human Services.  For example, President Trump proposed to gut the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget by 19 percent, which would have brought the NIH to its lowest funding level in 15 years.

“This bill will allow America’s best scientists and researchers to spend less time worrying about their budgets and more time creating new technologies and finding ways to treat and cure disease.  It also helps protect our nation’s youth from harmful, addictive tobacco products and the deadly opioid and heroin addiction epidemic,” said Durbin.  “Continuing to support medical and scientific research is the smartest investment we can make for our health, our future, and our economy.”

The bill was passed by the House on Wednesday and by the Senate on Thursday.  It will need to be signed by President Trump to become law.

According to Durbin, the following projects, programs, and provisions are beneficial to Illinois:

Energy and Water Development

Office of Science.  The DOE’s Office of Science, which supports Argonne and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, is funded at $5.392 billion in this bill (a $42 million increase over fiscal year 2016).

  • Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory – The bill provides $825 million for the Office of Science’s High Energy Physics Program, which provides 90 percent of Fermilab’s funding.  This is $30 million above last year’s level and includes $50 million of the Long Baseline Neutrino Facility, a priority at Fermilab.
  • Argonne National Laboratory – The bill provides $1.872 billion for the Office of Science’s Basic Energy Sciences Program, which provides approximately 40 percent of Argonne’s funding.  Within that amount, $42.5 million is provided for the Advanced Photon Source Upgrade at Argonne, a priority for the lab.  This is a $22 million increase over last year.

Uranium & Thorium Clean Up.  The bill contains $30 million for DOE’s Title X program, which pays contractors to clean up legacy defense sites across the country, including the site in West Chicago.

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

National Science Foundation.  The National Science Foundation (NSF) is funded at $7.47 billion, $9 million more than the fiscal year 2016 level.  This will fund basic science research in order to promote innovation, ensure America’s competitiveness in the global economy, and help train the future scientific and technical workforce.  Funding also allows for competitive grants for fundamental research and education projects across the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.  The University of Illinois leads the country as one of the largest recipients of NSF funding.

Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies

Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.  This bill includes $7.3 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, providing critical resources to our health departments and community organizations that are working day in and day out to combat lead poisoning, prevent diabetes, and better plan and prepare for infectious disease outbreaks.

National Institutes of Health.  This bill fully rejects President Trump’s proposed assault on medical research and instead includes a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, bringing the agency’s funding level to $34.1 billion.  This 6 percent increase in NIH funding matches the steady, predictable growth called for in legislation Durbin has introduced over the past few congresses, the American Cures Act.  

Opioid & Heroin Addiction Epidemic.  This bill includes more than $1 billion to help combat our nation’s prescription opioid and heroin epidemic. This funding will be available to states and local communities to help with prevention, education, enforcement, treatment, and recovery.

Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies

Food and Drug Administration.  Durbin fought to ensure that harmful tobacco “riders”—which would have severely undermined the Food and Drug Administration ability to protect our nation’s youth from harmful, addictive tobacco products—did not make it into this bill.  By omitting these terrible policy riders, the FDA can continue to conduct commonsense oversight of cigars and e-cigarettes.