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National Institute on Drug Abuse

Director's Report to the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse

February, 1998

Congressional Affairs

(Prepared January 9, 1998)

FY 98 Labor/HHS Education Appropriations Act

On November 13, 1997, the President signed into law H.R. 2264 (P.L. 105-78), the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1998. The bill increases funds for NIH by 7.1% over FY 97. NIDA received a 7.6 % increase over FY 97, for a FY 98 figure of $527,175,000.

Selected Provisions of Interest

Distribution of Sterile Needles

(Language from the Conference Report to accompany HR 2264, House Report 105-390, pg. 114)

"The conference agreement ... includes bill language limiting the use of federal funds for sterile needle and syringe exchange projects until March 31, 1998. After that date such projects may proceed if (1) the Secretary of Health and Human Services determines that exchange projects are effective in preventing the spread of HIV and do not encourage the use of illegal drugs; and (2) the project is operated in accordance with criteria established by the Secretary for preventing the spread of HIV and for ensuring that the project does not encourage the use of illegal drugs. This provision is consistent with the goal of allowing the Secretary maximum authority to protect public health while not increasing the overall number of needles and syringes in communities."

Parkinson's Disease Research

In the Appropriations Act amending the PHS Act there is language included to authorize $100 million to enhance Parkinson's research programs at NIH. Specifically, the amendment calls for research and training, inter-institute coordination, up to 10 Morris K. Udall Centers, a data system and information clearinghouse, Morris K. Udall Awards for Excellence in Parkinson's Disease Research, and a National Parkinson's Disease Education Program.


The Committee maintained the FY 1997 approach of providing funds for AIDS research directly to the NIH Institutes and Centers, contrary to the President's budget request for a single consolidated AIDS appropriation to OAR. The bill language also continues the authority for the NIH and OAR Directors to reallocate up to 3 percent of the funds designated for AIDS research among the Institutes and Centers. The committee requests that the NIH Director report on the FY 1998 allocation plans within 60 days of enactment and provide notification to the Committee in the event the two directors exercise their 3-percent transfer authority. (The conference FY 1998 budget estimate for AIDS funding is $1,595,453,000.) Report language states that the committee understands that the total could be modified depending on changing scientific opportunities and recommendations of various advisory bodies. The AIDS transfer authority jointly held by the NIH and OAR Directors is retained for FY 1998.

Controlled Substances

There is continuation of prohibition on the use of funds for any activity that promotes the legalization of controlled substances, except this does not apply where there is medical evidence of therapeutic value or federally sponsored clinical trials are being conducted to determine such value.

FY 99 Funding Outlook For NIH

President Clinton has agreed to a $1 billion increase for NIH in FY 99, and Members of Congress from both parties say they are virtually certain to approve an even bigger increase. Congress believes that NIH can exploit promising scientific opportunities and that investments in research will be popular with voters in this election year.

Both Rep. Porter (R-IL) and Sen. Specter (R-PA), Chairmen of the Appropriations subcommittees responsible for health spending, support major increases for NIH. Mr. Porter said he discussed the question at length with Mr. Gingrich (R-GA), Speaker of the House, who has expressed support for doubling of the NIH budget in five years "within the context of a balanced budget."

Tobacco Legislation

Under a settlement reached in June 1997 by the tobacco industry and a group of state attorneys general, the industry agreed to pay $368.5 billion over 25 years to cover smokers' health care costs and anti-smoking programs in exchange for immunity from certain lawsuits. Much of the settlement needs to be enacted into law in order to be implemented, and a major congressional debate is expected to begin when Congress reconvenes on January 27, 1998.

Before the end of the first session, a flurry of legislation relating to the settlement had been introduced, including several major bills designed to stimulate discussion. These included bills introduced by Senators Hatch (R-OR) [S1530] and Kennedy (D-MA) [S1492], who were unable to reach agreement on a bipartisan bill. While different in many respects, both proposals would create revenues for health programs.

Biomedical Research Trust Funds

For the past several years, a number of Members of Congress considered various mechanisms to ensure continued support for biomedical research in the face of stringent budget resolutions and pressure for a balanced budget. One of these mechanisms included the establishment of a trust fund to provide a continuing source of large amounts of money for NIH, independent of the appropriations process, and with stipulations that the trust funds are not to be used if there are not increases for NIH in the regular appropriations process. The concept of establishing trust funds for NIH continued into the 105th Congress. Key bills include:

  • S. 441, introduced by Sen. Harkin (D-IA), would require health plans to set aside 1 percent of all health care premiums for the National Fund for Health Research. The Secretary of HHS would phase in the 1 percent over a 4-year period.

  • S. 1411, introduced by Sen. Mack (R-FL), would disallow Federal income tax deductions for any tobacco litigation or settlement. The revenue from disallowing the deductions would be used to establish the NIH Trust Fund for Health Research.

  • H.R. 1257, introduced by Rep. Forbes (R-NY), would amend the Internal Revenue Code so that a check-off for the Biomedical Research Fund would allow individuals to designate $5 on their tax returns for research on a disease of their choice.

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