House Defense Bill: Floor Amendments

Legislators took the floor vote as an opportunity to boost medical research funding.

During the House of Representatives' floor proceedings on the FY 2015 Defense appropriations bill (H.R. 4870, approved June 20 on a 340-73 vote), several amendments were introduced and successfully passed to boost or redirect medical research funded through the Defense Health Program. In sum, $42.5 million was added for research, increasing total program research funding to $1.29 billion. The full list of all 80 successful and unsuccessful amendments can be viewed here; amendments focusing specifically on medical research, and their sponsoring representative, are listed below. All were passed by voice vote.

  • Barbara Lee (D-CA), $5 million for multiple sclerosis research
  • Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) offered two: one for $500,000 for PTSD research; and another for $5 million for breast cancer research
  • Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), $10 million for brain injury and PTSD research
  • Dan Benishek (R-MI), $2 million for Alzheimer's research
  • Alan Grayson (D-FL) offered two: one for $10 million for Gulf War illness; and another for $10 million for prostate cancer research
  • Two amendments were passed to redirect research appropriations. Rush Holt (D-NJ) requested $1 million more for mental health research, and James Langevin (D-RI) requested $30 million more for spinal injury research. Neither of these amendments added additional research funding, simply refocused funding already contained in the bill.

The Grayson prostate cancer research amendment listed above was paid for by an unspecified $10 million reduction to the "Defense-wide" R&D account, which includes R&D funding for DARPA, the Missile Defense Agency, the Chemical and Biological Defense Program, and other agencies not housed within a single military department.

In addition, to these amendments, Rep. Richard Nugent (R-FL) offered a successful amendment to shift $10 million from Air Force applied energy technology research to systems development for a counter-electronics program. There were also a few approved amendments intended to limit Department of Defense (DOD) participation or funding for an array of climate and low-carbon energy initiatives and purchasing.

As a result of these assorted amendments, DOD science and technology funding, including medical research, would decline by 3.1 percent from FY 2014 levels under the House bill, a slight increase from the version passed by the Appropriations Committee. Total science and technology funding would amount to $13.1 billion, and total DOD R&D would amount to $66 billion, just a 0.1 percent increase from FY 2014. The bill now awaits Senate action.