McDermott Co-Sponsors Bill to Protect the National Institutes of Health from Budget Sequester
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) and his colleagues introduced a bill to stop the across-the-board budget cuts scheduled for March 1 with a balance of increased revenue and sensible investments. The Balancing Act will halt impending automatic federal budget cuts, known as “sequester,” which would threaten important national investments like those in medical research—a staple of Washington State’s economy.
Pending sequestration will cancel $85 billion in federal spending, including roughly $2 billion from the National Institutes of Health budget. That amounts to some 2,000 research grants to America’s research universities, where the world’s top scientists are discovering treatments for diseases like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and HIV/AIDS. The Balancing Act would ensure that NIH’s budget is protected.
America leads the world in medical research and it is an industry that is high in job creation. In 2010 alone, medical research accounted for $69 billion worth of economic activity and $90 billion in exports. Federally funded medical research is key to Washington state jobs and to the University of Washington, the state’s third biggest employer. UW receives more federal funding than any other public university in the country and most of that funding comes from the NIH.
“I have opposed the sequester—a senseless and irresponsible approach to deficit reduction—since day one. Alternately, this bill deals with our deficit sensibly with an equal mix of increased revenue and targeted budget cuts, while protecting critical programs like the NIH,” said Congressman McDermott, a member of the House Budget Committee, which oversees sequestration. “Seattle’s economy uniquely relies on federal funding for medical research and it is the lifeblood of our local economy and a source of tremendous civic pride. It is no exaggeration to say that sequestration of research funding threatens the heart of Seattle’s economy, which is why I am doing my best to make sure that we protect our social safety net and our important national research investments.”
The Balancing Act tackles deficit reduction through revenues and investing in education and job creation. Negotiations in the summer of 2011 resulted in a deficit reduction of $1.7 trillion in revenue and savings, and the recent fiscal cliff deal reduced the deficit another $737 billion. The Balancing Act uses a 1-to-1 ratio of revenue and sensible cuts that together will generate approximately 1.2 million jobs. Combined, these measures will bring the total deficit reduction achieved over the last two years to $3.3 trillion.