In a letter dated June 12 , the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) thanked the sponsors of H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act, for making research a national priority and commended the Energy and Commerce Committee for advancing the bill through markup. FASEB specifically praised the authorization for increased appropriations for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the introduction of the Innovation Fund, which would provide an additional $10 billion over the next five years. “These authorized appropriations, together with the new, mandatory NIH Innovation Fund, represent significant progress toward the sustained, predictable funding that is paramount to maintaining a productive biomedical enterprise,” wrote FASEB President Joseph R. Haywood, PhD.
The letter also noted two ways in which the bill could do more to support research and researchers at NIH and encouraged the committee to take them into consideration as it proceeds with the legislation. One is to afford NIH more flexibility in the use of its appropriated funds. FASEB stressed the importance of granting NIH the authority to carry over unused funds from one fiscal year into the next, and asked for greater discretion in the allocation of the Innovation Fund.
The second opportunity the Federation addressed is the mitigation of burdensome federal travel regulations. Current regulations limit federal agency budgets for travel and federal employee attendance at scientific meetings. These meetings are vital to the exchange of ideas and formation of collaborations that drive science forward. FASEB recommended that federal researchers be exempted from these travel restrictions.