The final agreement to avoid certain tax increases and spending cuts passed both chambers of Congress on New Year’s Day, ensuring that the devastating cuts known as the “fiscal cliff” don’t take effect. Called the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, the package will prevent, at least for two months, $110 billion in across-the-board federal funding cuts that would have reduced the budgets of several agencies that fund medical research, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The medical research community is relieved to have dodged the larger, automatic, and across-the-board cuts called for under the 2011 Budget Control Act. Agency officials had calculated that sequestration would have resulted in the loss of 2,500 NIH grants and the Meso Foundation estimated a reduction of two mesothelioma grants in 2013 alone.
Another program that funds mesothelioma research, the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), also faces uncertainty in 2013. The funding for the CDMRP is added during the appropriations process by the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees’ on Defense, which will be a possibility when the 2013 budget is reassessed in March.
The Obama administration has repeatedly said that it wants to protect research, but the decision on which programs to cut is up to Congress. There is likely to be fierce fighting over how to allocate the reductions. The Meso Foundation will continue to follow the process and we will keep you informed on how to stay engaged with your lawmakers to not only ensure no cuts to mesothelioma research programs but to also increase their funding.