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JDF Washington Report
Volume II, No. 23
October 1, 1999

The following is a report written by Leah Mullin, Chair, JDF Government Relations.

This has been a whirlwind week on Capitol Hill regarding diabetes appropriations and research issues. We have some good news to report to you, but because there is much work to do we cannot rest.

House Appropriations Bill Emphasizes NIDDK

Last week, we reported to you that the House Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over NIH funding approved a bill (not yet numbered) that provides NIH with an increase for medical research of $1.3 billion, or 8.5 percent, over last year's level. In addition, the bill provides the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) with a 9.1- percent increase. From JDF's perspective, this is a solid start to this year's congressional appropriations process, and I emphasize the word "start." JDF will be following through with various initiatives designed to increase the number of diabetes research projects in which NIH is engaged.

Senate Appropriations Bill Provides Big Boost to NIH

The Senate Friday continued to work on its version of appropriations legislation (S. 1650) that would increase NIH's budget by $2 billion or 13 percent, very close to the level requested by JDF. This gives credence to our expectation that a higher number for NIH may prevail in the House/Senate conference.

Senate Votes 93 0 to Urge NIH to Implement Diabetes Research Working Group (DRWG) Report

Early Friday morning, Senate Diabetes Caucus Co-Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) offered a "Sense of the Senate" amendment to the Senate Appropriations Bill calling on NIH to fully implement the recommendations of the DRWG report. Although this amendment is not binding on NIH, it does serve as an indication of the strong interest of the Senate (and its constituents!) in diabetes research. The debate on the amendment, which included references to the JDF Children's Congress and the JDF Center for Islet Transplantation at Harvard Medical School will be available in the next few days in the Congressional Record section at http://thomas.loc.gov/.

House and Senate Committee Reports Tout Juvenile Diabetes Research

Both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees have included very strong "committee report language" in approximately twenty different sections of the legislation which urges the NIH to implement the provisions of the DRWG and specifically urges that NIH place the greatest priority on research toward a cure of juvenile diabetes. The report language, drafted by JDF and our congressional champions, also calls upon NIH to report back to Congress next year on the status of their plans to implement the DRWG report. The Senate report (Senate Report 106-166) is available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cp106/cp106query.html. The House Report (not yet numbered) should be available online in a few days.

JDF Advocates Help Stall Stem Cell Amendment

Also, this week, Representative Jay Dickey (R-AR) withdrew an amendment he planned to offer Thursday in the House Appropriations Committee to the NIH funding bill. The Dickey Amendment would have banned federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. It looks like your phone calls and the efforts of Patient's CURE, a coalition with which JDF is a leading member, combined with Congress' desire to pass a bill in due time, contributed to this decision. The counterpart Senate bill allows federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

What's Next

A final bill will be hashed out in conference between the Senate and the House in the next few weeks. How the final increase relates to the actual level of diabetes research at NIH will not be confirmed, however, until the end of fiscal year 2000 (September 30, 2000) when all grants awarded by NIH are tallied for public scrutiny. We do know that diabetes research has grown faster than the overall NIH over the past several years, and our challenge now will be to push the envelope even further.

As we have done over the past few years, JDF's research and government relations staffs, therefore, will be devoting considerable effort during the coming months to meeting with institute directors and program staff across NIH. The goal is to ratchet up the level of diabetes-related research initiatives within their respective areas, thereby expanding NIH's total diabetes research portfolio. The strong Senate and House Committee report language will assist in these efforts.

In summary, the trend is headed in the right direction. Major shifts in federal research priorities, an issue with which the diabetes community has engaged heavily, do not occur overnight. All indicators, however, are that the growth in diabetes-related research, as well as the increasing "buzz" in the scientific community and in Congress about diabetes, will continue. Both the growth in federally-funded diabetes research and the "buzz" around town can be largely attributed to JDF's effective volunteer advocacy network and research leadership.

To maintain this momentum, we cannot for a moment relent in our efforts. To that end, JDF will soon be unveiling a major grassroots mobilization for the year 2000, built on the success of its 1999 Children's Congress. It will be an all hands "call to action" designed to engage JDF volunteers from all fifty states in personal advocacy and will be accompanied at the national level by ongoing, targeted advocacy on the parts of community leaders and celebrities dedicated to finding a cure.

In the meantime, we will be working to obtain the highest possible level of funding for the NIH in the final appropriations bill that goes to the President and will continue to engage our congressional champions in ensuring that NIH responds to the good science outlined in the DRWG report. We will also be vigilant of any future efforts to ban funding for stem cell research. Of course, as your action is needed, we will let you know how you can make a difference.

Leah Mullin
Chair, Government Relations

For further details, please contact JDF's Government Relations Office at (800) 533-1868.

Juvenile Diabetes Foundation - Government Relations
1400 I Street, NW #500
Washington, DC 20005
1-800-JDF-1VOTE ex. 5 (800-533-1868)
www.jdfcure.org
mthreatt@jdfcure.org

Posted 26 September 1999



                 
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