It is deeply troubling to learn that Congress is considering not completing the fiscal year 2017 budget appropriations process. Because of the normal political fighting that we still see in Washington, Congress is now considering passing a short-term or even long-term budget continuing resolution instead of the negotiated budget resolution they have worked so hard and invested so many of our tax paid hours on creating.
Moving in this direction would have devastating consequences for medical research, including the Defense Health Research Programs at the Department of Defense (DoD) of which our own Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP) is a part.
Approaching our National budget in this manner will create unnecessary instability and uncertainty. It would upset the already on going grant solicitation, grant review, and grant making processes at the DoD. This approach will delay the ability of the DoD to convene programmatic panels to identify and implement programmatic changes, effectively convene peer-review panels to provide grant application reviews, and conduct appropriate negotiations to ultimately award FY17 grants.
Beyond the disruption of the vital DoD programs, the failure to enact the fiscal year 2017 Defense Appropriations Act will interrupt many other necessary research pipelines that have allowed young investigators at U.S. universities to start to build careers in medical research. This interruption in their career development will certainly disrupt the smooth development of our future medical researchers, putting at risk countless future generations of medical researchers.
We applaud the House and Senate Appropriations Committees that have worked hard to make important programmatic and funding changes to the defense health programs included in their respective versions of the FY17 Defense Appropriations Act. These efforts, and those made by the American research community to prepare for new research opportunities, will be wasted if Congress again allows politics to intervene and does not properly and completely complete its work. This waste will cost each and everyone of us taxpayers direct harm, we will not be getting what we have paid for by ignoring the hard work and dollars already expended to develop the budget.
We must remember and weigh that the failure of Congress to enact a final bill will have life and death implications on the millions of Americans – including veterans – suffering from chronic and debilitating disorders. This action will delay important new discoveries and translation of medical innovation into new treatments and cures for many disorders.
Malecare as well as the many men we represent are very concerned and feel strongly about this issue. We also are grateful for the hard work by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to include funding increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in their versions of the fiscal year 2017 Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations Act. The combined impact of not approving both the NIH funding increase and funding for the DoD health research programs will have a devastating impact on the entire American medical research enterprise.
Please do not allow this to happen.