Durbin Called to Oval Office Meeting to Discuss Medical Research with President Biden

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met with President Joe Biden and a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers in the Oval Office to discuss how best to achieve advances in the fight against cancer.  For years, Durbin has been a leader in the Congressional effort to restore the United States’ commitment to breakthrough scientific and biomedical research.  Thanks to Durbin’s efforts as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the base budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has increased 42 percent in the past seven years—for a total of nearly $13 billion in increased funding.

Research and development (R&D) funding in the United States has been lagging in recent decades. During the 1960s, the United States invested 17 percent of its discretionary budget on research and development—that number has now decreased to just nine percent.  This steady decline has led to a cumulative $1.5 trillion research investment deficit.  Meanwhile, China’s research intensity (GDP expenditures on R&D) has increased sharply since the early 2000s – if this trend continues, China will soon surpass the U.S.

“President Biden and I both personally understand the human toll of cancer for millions of families.  That is why increasing federal research funding is a top priority,” Durbin said.  “I have championed legislation for years that would help America’s smartest scientists and researchers find cures for deadly diseases like cancer and tackle the challenges of the future.  I’m honored to be called on to work with the President to continue supporting scientific and medical research.  It is the smartest investment we can make for our health, our future, and our economy.”

Durbin has introduced three pieces of legislation that would create mandatory funds to provide steady, predicable funding for breakthrough research at America’s top research agencies, enabling the United States to remain a leader in development and discovery for decades to come.

American Innovation Act and American Cures Act

Durbin is the leader of bicameral legislation to restore the United States’ commitment to breakthrough scientific and biomedical research.  Since 2014, Durbin has introduced the American Cures Actwhich would provide annual budget increases of five percent plus inflation at America’s top four biomedical research agencies: the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense Health Program, and the Veterans Medical and Prosthetics Research Program.

Durbin is also the lead author of the American Innovation Actwhich would provide annual budget increases of five percent for cutting edge research at five important federal research agencies: The National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, the Department of Defense Science and Technology Programs, the National Institute of Standards and Technology Scientific and Technical Research, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Science Directorate.  This steady, long-term investment would allow the agencies to plan and manage strategic growth while maximizing efficiencies.

America Grows Act

Durbin is also the lead author of the America Grows Actwhich would authorize a five percent annual funding increase over the next five years at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  With most domestic agriculture research on the decline, the America Grows Act would restore the United States’ commitment to publically-funded agriculture research at USDA. The specific agencies involved would include the Agriculture Research Service, National Institute for Food and Agriculture, National Agriculture Statistics Service and Economic Research Service.