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Trump budget targets large cuts in medical research; plan meets resistance in Senate

President Trump has proposed large cuts to medical research in the White House budget.  With that shadow hanging over their heads, officials from the nation’s medical research nerve center—the National Institutes of Health—along with the National Cancer Institute and other top research agencies — are talking to Senators about saving their funding. 

Lawmakers from both parties are saying the prognosis for medical research is good. They want to increase funding for research, not cut it. 

Senator James Langford, R-OK, talked about a man he met on a recent flight home. He was part of a trail at NIH that may save his life. 

“I was sitting next to a gentleman flying on my way back to Oklahoma,” said Langford,  “It reminded me again of how many people are still around because of the work that you’re doing.” 

During a hearing on Capitol Hill leaders of the nation’s top medical research agencies talked about medical breakthroughs, like treatment for sickle cell disease which impacts 100,000 Americans. 

And important research like efforts to combat the opioid crisis — including the creation of a non-addictive painkiller.

Dr. Francis Collins, NIH Director said, “We are working now with pharmaceutical companies.” 

Funding for medical research increased steadily over the last four years. But the latest budget from the Trump administration proposes billions of dollars in cuts. And that’s leading to criticism by senators from both parties. 

Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, R-AL, said government-funded medical research represents some of the most important work being done in the country. 

“I’m not interested in cutting your budget. I’m interested in increasing it,” said Shelby.

The Trump administration says the cuts are tough choices in the effort to pare back government spending. 

But if Thursday’s hearing was any indication, belt-tightening will not come at the expense of medical research.