Updated at 11:20 a.m. ET
For the last two years, the National Institutes of Health has represented a rare point of agreement in Washington, with congressional Republicans leading a bipartisan effort to increase its funding.
But the agency, the world’s engine of biomedical research, may now find itself in a less comfortable position. In a spending proposal released Thursday, the Trump administration cut roughly 20 percent of the NIH budget, or $5.8 billion. It’s a significant departure from the $2 billion increase the agency recently saw—and it’s sure to rattle researchers whose work, and livelihoods, depend on public money.
The numbers released Thursday constitute a budget blueprint, and the administration and both chambers of Congress will release their full budgets later this year. But as my colleague Russell Berman notes, the blueprint is still significant, as it shows where the White House’s priorities lie and where they don’t. This so-called “skinny budget” includes a $54 billion increase in defense spending and major cuts to discretionary domestic programs, like NIH. “The budget includes a major reorganization of NIH’s institutes and centers,” the administration’s proposal reads, “to help focus resources on the highest priority research and training activities. … The budget also reduces administrative costs and rebalance federal contributions to research funding.”