House Passes FY 2021 Funding Bill With $5.5 Billion Increase for NIH

Includes Henrietta Lacks Legislation to Improve Clinical Trial Access for Communities of Color

July 31, 2020

Washington, D.C., — Today the U.S. House of Representatives voted on an FY 2021 spending bill that includes a $5.5 billion funding increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Half of the increase would be considered emergency funding and the other half would be divided among the various institutes, including a nearly $470 million funding boost for the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The proposal also includes the Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act aimed at improving access to cancer research clinical trials for communities of color and prioritizes lung cancer research and education.  

The bill increases funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and allocates an additional $10 million for the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health (OSH), which provides funding for programs that help prevent youth from starting to use tobacco and helps adult tobacco users to quit.

A statement from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) follows:

“Today’s vote illustrates the clear commitment of the House of Representatives to strong investments in public health by allocating robust resources for the NIH and NCI. While the funding in this bill will go a long way to protect critical medical research, lawmakers should also keep in mind that emergency funding alone will not propel continued advancements in cancer prevention, detection and treatment. Such advancements rely on consistent, year over year funding increases to maintain positive scientific momentum and deliver lifesaving results. 

“Easy access to such potential breakthrough treatments also needs to be equitable across all communities. The inclusion of the Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act—named after a Black woman who died of cervical cancer and whose cells cultivated during her treatment have been used to develop some of the most important cancer treatments—will help focus on identifying and removing barriers that prevent underrepresented groups from participating in cancer clinical trials. Communities of color and other medically underserved groups continue to have higher cancer rates and are less likely to be diagnosed early or receive optimal treatment compared to other groups.

“Increased CDC funding is critical to improving the nation’s public health and the appropriations bill offers several means to reduce the cancer burden. By increasing the budget for the Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) by $10 million our country can better tackle the number one preventable cause of cancer by helping prevent kids from starting tobacco use and helping adults to quit. The bill also includes small funding increases for the colorectal cancer screening program, the ovarian cancer control initiative and the gynecological cancer awareness effort known as “Johanna’s Law” as well as directing research into improved lung cancer screening and incidence of lung cancer in women. It also directs the nation’s international aid agency to begin studying ways to reduce cervical cancer deaths in low and middle-income countries around the world.

“Considering the clear value of prevention, we would urge lawmakers to increase funding for other critical cancer screening programs, including for breast, cervical, skin and prostate, in any final FY 21 funding deal. 

“On behalf of the more than 1.8 million Americans who will be diagnosed with cancer this year, we look forward to working with lawmakers to pass a final appropriations bill that reflects the critical need for medical research and disease prevention across a broad range of priorities, including cancer.” 

Media Contacts

Emily Rohloff
Director, Media Advocacy
Washington, D.C.
Alissa Crispino
Vice President, Media Advocacy & Communications
Washington, D.C.