Maryland politicians on Tuesday condemned President Donald Trump’s newly released budget proposal, which would slash research funding at agencies such as the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda.
NIH, Montgomery County’s largest employer, would see its funding plummet by roughly $6 billion to $26.9 billion under the fiscal 2018 plan. Within the agency, the National Cancer Institute would take a roughly $1 billion hit, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases would lose about $840 million and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute would absorb a $575 million funding reduction. Smaller cuts would be distributed across more than 20 other NIH branches.
Trump’s plan—titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness”—cast the reductions as a way to increase efficiencies and target federal spending toward high-priority research.
U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat who represents Bethesda, called the Trump budget a “savage attack on the health and well-being of the American people” in a series of tweets that also lambasted the proposal for cutting anti-poverty programs and Environmental Protection Agency funding.
— Rep. Jamie Raskin (@RepRaskin) May 23, 2017
A swift response also came from U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Kensington Democrat who sits on the Senate Budget Committee.
“The deep cuts to the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will result in fewer treatments and cures to diseases that impact virtually every American family,” Van Hollen said in a prepared statement.
He also criticized proposed cuts to Medicaid, Social Security Disability Insurance and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Maryland Del. Kirill Reznik (D-Germantown) urged the state’s congressional representatives to oppose Trump’s recommendation.
He said the budget would be “particularly devastating to Marylanders” because the spending reductions would fall heavily on federal employees who comprise a substantial portion of the state workforce. NIH has 20,000 employees at its Bethesda headquarters.
Not only is NIH affected, but Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland will also suffer from reduced research funding, he wrote to the congressional delegation. Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts would also experience setbacks under Trump’s plan, according to Reznik.
“These are just a few of the examples of this irresponsible, callous, merciless and wholly unnecessary budget proposal. I implore you to help protect the people of Maryland by rejecting this proposed budget,” he wrote.
— Kirill Reznik (@DelegateReznik) May 23, 2017
Researchers also denounced the spending plan.
Cuts to the NIH budget would “make funding new research grants a near impossibility” and reduce the agency’s funding to a 17-year low, according to the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
“President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget, if enacted, would significantly damage the nation’s role as the global leader of research and innovation, and would roll back years of bipartisan support from Congress,” Benjamin Corb, the society’s public affairs director, said in a prepared statement.
Trump’s “skinny budget” released earlier this year also prompted an outcry from local leaders because of a roughly $6 billion cut to NIH funding. The congressional budget plan approved earlier this month ended up averting the cuts and instead boosting the agency’s funding by about $2 billion.