Congress Passes Legislation Providing $21.5 Million in Lupus Funding, Most in U.S. History
UPDATE: after the Senate voted to approve the omnibus spending package on December 21, the president signed it into law on December 27.
Moments ago, the United States House of Representatives approved a funding package that provides $21.5 million in new funding for lupus-specific research and education programs in fiscal year 2021, as well as $42.9 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health.
The spending package, referred to as an omnibus because it combines the twelve annual appropriations bills into one legislative package to fund the entire government, is expected to be passed by the Senate and signed into law by the president in the coming days.
$21.5 million is the most funding Congress has ever approved for lupus-specific programs in a single year, beating the previous record, set last year, by nearly $3 million.
The omnibus package passed by the House tonight includes:
- $9.5 million for the National Lupus Patient Registry at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the third consecutive year Congress has increased funding for the program by $1 million;
- $10 million for the Lupus Research Program at the Department of Defense (DoD) for the second year in a row after receiving $5 million in each of the program’s first three years;
- $2 million for the lupus program at the Office of Minority Health, an increase of $750,000 over fiscal year 2020;
- $42.9 billion for the National Institutes of Health, an increase of $1.25 billion for the largest public funder of lupus research in the world.
Once passed by the Senate and signed by the president, the government will be fully funded for fiscal year 2021, which runs until September 30, 2021, and the critical work these programs are doing to better understand lupus and identify and evaluate possible treatments for the disease may continue uninterrupted.
Upward Trajectory for Lupus Funding Continues
Prior to fiscal year 2020, Congress had never committed more than $15 million to lupus-specific programs in any single year in the country’s history. With their 2020 spending package, passed last December, Congress committed nearly $19 million to lupus, more than $4 million higher than their previous single-year record.
After such a drastic increase in funding last year, and more competing legislative priorities in 2020 than ever before on Capitol Hill, it was clear that replicating that funding number this year would be an uphill climb. But per usual, lupus advocates never took their foot off the gas, securing a second consecutive single-year high for lupus federal funding, shattering the previous record by nearly $3 million.
While the past two years have seen unprecedented increases in lupus funding, they are a continuation of an upward trend that goes back quite a few years further. Federal funding for lupus-specific programs has now increased in each of the last 8 fiscal years dating back to 2014, and over that time period, funding has increased by nearly 200 percent to its 2021 level of $21.5 million.
Lupus Advocates Lead the Way
As with any advocacy victory, we would not be in this position without the lupus advocates who never stopped raising their voice throughout 2020. Whether it was participating in the 2020 Digital Lupus Advocacy Summit in March, or meeting virtually with elected officials during the August recess, every email, phone call, and social media message from lupus advocates to their members of Congress brought us to this moment.
Year after year, lupus advocates continue to prove that their strength and influence on Capitol Hill is unmatched.
We would also like to extend our gratitude to every congressional office who took the time to meet with lupus advocates and hear about the devastating toll of this disease and how these programs are bringing us closer to a world without lupus. As always, we are extremely grateful to the Congressional Lupus Caucus and its cochairs, Representatives Bill Keating (D-MA), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), and Peter King (R-NY), as well as the leaders of the Appropriations Committee in the House and Senate, Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Kay Granger (R-TX) and Senators Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), for their commitment to lupus research and education.
The legislation is expected to be passed by the Senate and signed into law by the president, fully funding the government through September 2021.
And at the Lupus Foundation of America, we are already focused on securing even larger increases in funding for fiscal year 2022! Please sign up as an advocate to receive updates and alerts related to all our policy priorities, and we hope that you will join us for the 2021 Digital Lupus Advocacy Summit from March 2-4, 2021 as we continue to advocate for policies and funding that will improve the quality of life for people with lupus. Registration for the Digital Summit is free and open now!