WASHINGTON — Senate leaders on Wednesday announced a bipartisan budget agreement that would increase funding for the National Institutes of Health by $2 billion and raise spending meant to address the opioid and mental health crisis by $6 billion over the next two years.
The White House endorsed the agreement during its announcement on the Senate floor. The House is likely to pass it with few changes, staving off another government shutdown or continuing spending resolution that had loomed if no agreement was reached.
The increase in NIH funding continues a trend of substantial budget increases for the agency over the last several years.
In a budget request submitted last May, the White House proposed a 17 percent reduction in the 2018 NIH budget, and indicated support for a cap on the portion of agency grants that can be used toward research institutions’ infrastructure costs. Congress instead ignored the White House request, and raised planned spending on the NIH to $36.1 billion dollars.
The Trump administration’s budget request for the 2019 fiscal year is expected on Monday.
Meanwhile, the funding to address the opioid crisis comes after months of congressional hand-wringing but little action on the subject. The Trump administration declared it a public health emergency in October but had not directed any new funding toward the effort or explicitly encouraged Congress to do so.
The $6 billion over two years falls roughly in line with recent proposals from Democrats and Republicans who had advocated for between $2 billion and $4.5 billion in additional funding for addiction treatment and prevention each year for the next decade.