Sarbanes, Maryland Lawmakers Urge Congressional Appropriators to Boost Funding for NIH
TOWSON, MD – Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today joined U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Senator Chris Van Hollen, along with Congressmen Steny H. Hoyer, Elijah E. Cummings, Dutch Ruppersberger, Anthony G. Brown, Jamie Raskin and David Trone (all D-Md.), in calling on Senate and House appropriators to follow the recommendations laid out in a recent study by the National Academy of Sciences that calls for $1.3 billion – $700 million urgently – to upgrade older facilities at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Bethesda campus.
“The results of the report indicate that 72 percent of facilities at NIH are more than 20 years old and most buildings fall under a ‘condition index’ of poor. In addition, the report found instances of building system failures that place heightened risk to research and patient care and undermine the very mission of the NIH,” the lawmakers wrote. “In order to ensure that NIH has the ability to conduct its mission … it is critical that the NIH’s Bethesda campus receive additional funding to address the backlog of maintenance and repair needs.”
See below for a full copy of the letter.
* * *
September 5, 2019
The Honorable Richard C. Shelby
Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations
The Honorable Patrick Leahy
Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Appropriations
The Honorable Nita M. Lowey
Chairwoman, House Committee on Appropriations
The Honorable Kay Granger
Ranking Member, House Committee on Appropriations
Dear Chairman Shelby and Chairwoman Lowey; and Ranking Member Leahy and Ranking Member Granger:
As the Maryland Congressional Delegation, we thank you for your longstanding support for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland. The bipartisan increases in funding for NIH over the past several fiscal years have greatly enhanced the ability of the 20,000 dedicated professionals of NIH to conduct lifesaving, groundbreaking biomedical research and award new grants for promising studies conducted across the country. We write you urging support for the funding recommendations contained in the recently released National Academy of Sciences’ “Managing the NIH Bethesda Campus’ Capital Assets for Success in a Highly Competitive Global Biomedical Research Environment” report. As you may be aware, this report was required by the Appropriations Committees under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017.
This newly released report reviewed the NIH facilities in greatest need of repair on the Bethesda campus and evaluated the cost estimates to determine which investments are needed for NIH to successfully accomplish its mission in future years. The results of the report indicate that 72 percent of facilities at NIH are more than 20 years old and most buildings fall under a “condition index” of “poor.” In addition, the report found instances of building system failures that place heightened risk to research and patient care and undermine the very mission of the NIH, such as several instances of where plumbing system failures led to the flooding of laboratories and operating rooms. In total, the report identified a $1.3 billion total multi-year backlog in maintenance and repair needs necessary to bring the crumbling buildings at NIH to an acceptable standard to complete their critical mission, with an urgent need for $700 million in funding.
We thank the Committees for their previous support for necessary improvements to the NIH and the adjacent Walter Reed National Military Medical Center campus that bolstered medical care for the public and our wounded warriors and veterans. In addition to the $71 million increase to the NIH’s Buildings and Facilities account for Fiscal Year 2019, the Committees also provided $40 million in 2012 to establish a pedestrian tunnel connecting the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Medical Center Metro station on NIH’s campus with the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. These necessary investments on campus allow these two premier sites to provide groundbreaking medical research and the highest level of care for patients, including our wounded warriors and veterans.
We are proud to represent the State of Maryland and a majority of the workers at NIH who work every day to save lives today and years in the future. In order to ensure that NIH has the ability to conduct its mission “…to enhance health, lengthen life and reduce illness and disability,” it is critical that the NIH’s Bethesda campus receive additional funding to address the backlog of maintenance and repair needs. We thank you all for your consideration of this request and longstanding support for NIH.