Feature stories

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Specter-Harkin-Kennedy Amendment

Please call your United States Senators TODAY and tell them to
This week (the week of March 13th), the Senate is scheduled to vote on the Senate Budget
Resolution, which sets the overall funding allocations for all federal spending for Fiscal Year
2007 (FY 07). As currently drafted, the Senate Budget Resolution CUTS funding for medical
research and public health programs. While this is very serious situation, there is a glimmer of
hope. Sometime THIS WEEK – and possibly as soon as MARCH 14th – the Senate will vote
on the SPECTER-HARKIN-KENNEDY amendment to increase funding for all health and
education programs by $7 billion. The only way to GUARANTEE that cancer research and
programs are not only saved from cuts – but also receive necessary increases in FY 2007 – is for
the Senate to pass the SPECTER-HARKIN-KENNEDY Amendment.
When the Budget Resolution is considered in the Senate this week, ask your U.S. Senators to
oppose the President's proposed cuts to medical research and public health and support efforts to
increase funding for cancer research and programs. Request that they vote FOR the SPECTERHARKIN-
KENNEDY amendment to increase funding for health and education by $7 billion,
which restores funding for these programs to the FY 05 levels.
• Call the Capitol Hill switchboard at (202) 224-3121, or go to www.senate.gov to find the
Washington, D.C. office numbers for your two U.S. Senators.
• Once connected to each office, ask to speak with the legislative assistant that handles
health care.
• Identify yourself as a voting constituent who cares about cancer research, treatment and
prevention programs. Tell the staff how cancer has touched you or your family.
• Ask that the Senator support the SPECTER-HARKIN-KENNEDY AMENDMENT
TO THE 2007 BUDGET RESOLUTION, and all efforts to increase funding for
Function 550 and cancer research and programs.
• Make it clear that there is no excuse to justify voting against their constituents, the 1.5
million Americans who will be diagnosed with cancer this year, or the 10 million
Americans living with cancer.
• Let the staff know that you will be following the budget process closely, and ask the staff
to keep you up to date on what actions the Senator will take in support of cancer research,
treatment and prevention programs.
BACKGROUND: On the heels of approving the first cuts to the budgets for the National
Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) since 1970 in Fiscal Year
2006 (FY 06), the President has proposed even deeper cuts for the NCI in FY 07. As a result, the
total number of NIH-funded research project grants would drop by 642 (or 2%) below last year’s
level. The President’s budget would cut funding for the NCI by $40 million.
In addition to these cuts in medical research, the President's budget also proposes deep
reductions at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for chronic disease prevention,
quality of life programs, and health promotion. Specifically, the proposed budget cuts nearly
$20 million from chronic disease programs, which include cancer control, prevention, and
survivorship. In fact, under the President's proposal, the CDC Cancer programs, which are
already severely under-funded, would be cut by more the $3 million.
Members of Congress on the respective Appropriations Committee cannot adequately fund
programs in FY 07 if they do not have the authority to spend the money. As we saw last year,
the House and Senate Appropriations Committees can only spend as much money as they are
allocated. That starts with the Congressional Budget Resolution, which sets the spending caps
for the year by "Functions." For health care (including medical research and public health
programs), the critical Function is "550." The bottom line is simple: if the Budget Resolution
CUTS Function 550, the Appropriations bill MUST CUT medical research and public health
The SPECTER-HARKIN-KENNEDY amendment adds $7 billion for health and education
programs in the budget resolution and restores these functions to the same levels they were at
just two years ago. If we don’t reverse the trend this year, it will only get worse in the future.
The President himself has said, “in order to win the war against cancer we must fund the war
against cancer.” Further, when proclaiming National Cancer Control month last April, the
President said, “aggressive funding will lead scientists to earlier diagnoses and improved
treatments for lung, colorectal and other cancers.”
The budget proposed by the Administration is far from adequate to fulfill this pledge for
“aggressive funding.” In addition, 92 Senators and 280 Representatives signed a letter to the
President in support of providing the resources necessary to end suffering and death from cancer
by 2015.
If Members of Congress truly support cancer research and public health programs and are serious
about their commitment to end suffering and death from cancer, they must support a
Congressional Budget Resolution that increases Function 550 funding over last year's level. If
they support a Budget Resolution that cuts Function 550, they support cutting cancer research,
public health programs at CDC, and quality of life for all Americans who are living with cancer.


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