Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) is calling on Congress to prevent the latest round of sequester cuts that could impede medical research.
A bipartisan conference committee, created in the agreement to end the government shutdown, has until December to decide whether to keep or reduce cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Last year the Pittsburgh region received 1,132 NIH awards totaling more than $503 million. As a whole, Pennsylvania was given 3,369 grants worth more than $1.4 billion.
The commonwealth ranked fourth in federal research funding in 2012.
With the next round of sequester cuts scheduled for January, Casey said medical research can’t stand to be underfunded.
“If we can get Washington on the right track,” he said, “then the breakthroughs here, the cures, the hope that is evident here, will burn ever brightly.”
The first round of cuts, which cost the state about $70 million, led medical researchers to continue their work overseas and affected about 1,000 jobs.
If sequestration continues, the Center for American Progress estimates there will be a $1.2 billion reduction in NIH grants, resulting in the loss of 25,506 jobs nationally.
Casey said the United States could lose its “edge” if nothing is done.
“It makes no sense, sequestration,” he said. “No company, no successful company, no family, would reduce spending in the way that sequestration is reducing spending right now.”
But Casey is hopeful. He said it’s something both sides of the aisle can get behind.
“The impact of this, the benefits of it, knows no partisan bounds,” he said. “The results of research don’t just help one party versus the other. It helps everyone and it’s also a big economic priority for people in both parties.”