USA NEWS CORP
Obama Stresses to Funding Against Ebola
14 December, 2014, U.S., USA NEWS CORP
Nature reported that NASA and the US National Science Foundation would see their budgets rise in fiscal year 2015 under a US$1.1 trillion spending bill approved by the US Congress. The measure, passed by the House on 11 December and by the Senate on 13 December, also includes an additional $5.2 billion in aid and research funds for the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. US President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law, finalizing the budget for US agencies through 30 September 2015. President Obama praised researchers for their progress in developing a potential vaccine for Ebola and called on Congress to pass $6.2 billion in emergency funds to fight the virus, warning, “We cannot beat Ebola without more funding.” Overall, the bill would increase spending on research and development by 1.7% above the 2014 level — in lockstep with the rate of inflation. But the share of money going to basic research would decline by 0.3% in real dollars, according to Matt Hourihan, director of the research and development budget and policy programme at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington DC. “The problem is it continues the slow bleed,” says Michael Lubell, the director of public affairs for the American Physical Society in Washington DC. The Ebola bolus includes $25 million for the Food and Drug Administration for purposes such as expediting drug and vaccine approval. The Department of State, which includes the Agency for International Development, would receive an additional $2.5 billion for Ebola programmes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would get $1.78 billion for its Ebola work in the United States and Africa, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) would receive $238 million for research that includes testing experimental Ebola vaccines. AAAS reported that Congress will soon return from the August recess and resume consideration of FY 2015 appropriations. As usual at this time of year, there's still quite a bit of work to do to complete the process, especially in the Senate, and limited time before the elections to do it. Senate Appropriations Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) remains interested in a September omnibus that would package all or several bills into one, but the odds seem to favor a continuing resolution to avoid a shutdown and extend current funding through the election, as House Republicans prefer. With all this uncertainty, it's hard to say when appropriations will be finalized, and which recommendations from appropriators will survive any eventual negotiations and work their way into law. And there are still no NIH figures available in the House. But outside of NIH, enough progress has been made to provide a general picture of Congressional preferences for R&D funding in FY 2015. A rundown of the big picture is below, followed by brief agency recaps. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reported that an experimental vaccine it developed, along with the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, had produced good results in tests with 20 healthy adults, who developed antibodies against Ebola.
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