Durbin Introduces Amendment To Preserve American Leadership In Biomedical And Scientific Research

Lack of federal research funding has led to $1.5 trillion investment deficit

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - With a decline in federal biomedical and scientific research threatening our global competitiveness, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced an amendment to the FY2016 budget to preserve America’s standing as a leader in discovery and innovation. During a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Durbin noted that federal funding for research and development has been on a downward trend for the past several decades. He urged his colleagues to not cut back on research that is devoted to finding cures and treatments to diseases like cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. 

“I’ve been speaking on the floor here for three minutes. In that three minutes, three Americans were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s,” Durbin said. “The question that is posed to us – to this generation of Senators – is are you going to further research in areas that can cure disease, alleviate human suffering, and reduce the cost of the government? I have found that this is the most bipartisan issue in the world.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate Floor is available here.

In 2012, fifty-three percent of all funding for basic research came from the federal government. Yet as a percentage of the total federal budget, the federal government spends two-thirds less on research and development today than it did in 1965. At NIH – the foremost biomedical research institute in the world – the percentage of research grants that receive funding has declined almost every year for the past 10 years. The lack of funding has led to a $1.5 trillion investment deficit and a growing number of America’s best young researchers are taking their talents to other industries – and other countries.

Durbin’s amendment is based on a pair of bills that he has recently introduced – The American Innovation Act and The American Cures Act. The bills would set steady growth rates in federal appropriations for biomedical and scientific research conducted at the nation’s premier federal research agencies.

Last week, Durbin introduced The American Innovation Act, which would provide annual budget increases of 5% – over and above inflation – 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 (NASA) Science Directorate. More information on the bill is available HERE.

Earlier this year, Durbin introduced The American Cures Act, which would set a steady growth rate in federal appropriations for biomedical research conducted at NIH, CDC, DHP, and the Veterans Medical & Prosthetics Research Program. Each year, the bill would increase funding for each agency and program at a rate of GDP-indexed inflation plus 5 percent. This steady, long-term investment would allow the agencies to plan and manage strategic growth while maximizing efficiencies. More information on the bill is available HERE.