Chairwoman Lowey Statement at Hearing on FY 2021 NIH Budget Request

2020-03-04 10:15

Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee's hearing on the Fiscal Year 2021 budget request for the National Institutes of Health:

I thank Chair DeLauro and Ranking Member Cole for holding this hearing and welcome our distinguished panelists. 

President Trump’s disastrous budget is filled with deep cuts that tear at the fabric of our nation.   Instead of building on the historic investments in last year’s appropriations bills, the President doubled down on partisan talking points. 

To propose investing $2 billion for the wall while cutting $3.3 billion from the National Institutes of Health exposes the Trump Administration priorities for what they are: political rhetoric over public health.

But as you know, this Committee has your back.  At a time with surging cases and costs associated with heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and related dementias, a vaping epidemic, and now the novel coronavirus, this panel’s commitment to NIH will remain strong. 

I would be remiss not to mention that, with my retirement, this will likely be my last NIH budget hearing.

We have come so far since I joined this subcommittee in 1993 when NIH was funded at about $10.3 billion.  We committed to doubling the NIH budget, then more than tripled it.  Together, with the great leadership of this subcommittee, we have secured increases of $11.6 billion in the past five fiscal years, for a total funding level of $41.7 billion.

And every penny was worth it.

I remember touring a lab with a young Dr. Francis Collins who had a plan to map the human genome.  Advances in combating breast cancer have revolutionized survivor rates as immunotherapy has given life to people who would have had a death sentence a decade ago.  We know more about childhood development and the human brain, and we are witnessing amazing strides in precision medicine.

We even have some female lab rats.

Your work has filled me – and millions of Americans - with hope.  Never, in all of human history, has medicine had more to offer. 

And yet, with all these great achievements, we have much more to do.  I recently came across my questions from an NIH hearing in 1999, when I asked why women are more likely than men to have Alzheimer’s.

We still don’t know the answer. 

We still don’t have a method for early detection of certain cancers.

We still don’t know why treatments work for some patients but not others. 

We still don’t know why rates of autism are rising, and why there are higher rates among boys than girls.

There is so much we need to achieve.  And I can think of no better people to do it than the people sitting in front of us today.  You have saved lives.  You have eased suffering.  You are our superheroes. 

With the polarization in our politics, if the American people could see how we come together to fund such important work, they would be proud.  And that is why we cannot let a partisan budget request stand in the way of saving lives.

I thank you.


116th Congress