Lawmakers, scientists, and advocacy groups are decrying President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), saying they represent another broken campaign promise and a “heartless” attack on critical medical research.
In keeping with his war on science, Trump’s “skinny budget” released earlier this month outlined a 20 percent cut to the NIH; a specific proposal put forth this week would cut an additional $1.23 billion from the agency’s 2017 fiscal year budget. The reduction is part of $18 billion in cuts Trump is requesting “from medical research, education, and other programs for the remainder of the current fiscal year to finance construction of a border wall and build up the military,” as Bloomberg reported.
According to STAT:
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Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price defended the proposed cuts before a House committee on Wednesday. But slashing medical research will be a hard sell, both in Congress and to the public. A Quinnapiac poll released last week found overwhelming opposition to cutting medical research, with 87 percent disapproval and only 10 percent of respondents voicing approval.
Meanwhile, organizations representing a variety of scientific and public health interests decried the latest proposal.
“The president continues to put the health and well-being of Americans in danger to move forward a so-called ‘hard power budget,’ even while leaders from his own party view investments in biomedical research as critical to the nation’s security,” said Benjamin Corb, director of public affairs for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He said implementing the NIH cuts would amount to “throwing progress out the window.”
Similarly, the group UsAgainstAlzheimer’s said the recent proposals “represent an assault on the hopes of millions with Alzheimer’s and related dementias who are desperate for a cure.” Trump, whose father had Alzheimer’s, once called the disease a “total top priority for me.”
Others chimed in online:
NBC News laid out how other health and science programs across government agencies are targeted under Trump’s latest proposal:
- Take $350 million from the National Science Foundation’s $6.9 billion budget
- Cut $37 million from the Department of Energy’s $5.3 billion worth of science programs
- Excise $48 million from the Environmental Protection Agency’s research and development budget of $483 million
- Cut in half the $101 million Teen Pregnancy Prevention program
- Reduce Food and Drug Administration staff spending by $40 million
- Cut domestic and global HIV/AIDS programs by $100 million plus cut the Presidential Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) $4.3 billion budget by $242 million
- Completely delete the $72 million Global Health Security fund at the State Department and cut other global health programs by $90 million and $62 million for global family planning
NBC quoted Charles Kieffer, Democratic staff director for the Senate Appropriations Committee, who told a panel at the Bipartisan Policy Center on Tuesday: “His focus is on cutting science programs.”
And it has researchers terrified, as Washington University in St. Louis assistant professor of genetics Mike White wrote Wednesday:
A March for Science is scheduled for April 22 in Washington, D.C., with sister marches planned around the country.