Since 1992, Congress has provided funding for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRPs) in the annual Defense Appropriations Act. Specific funding levels are provided for disease-specific programs, ranging from more common cancers to rare diseases to Gulf War Illness. The programs are administered by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) at the Department of Defense (DoD).
Funding for the CDMRPs is not included in the President’s budget – it is added by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees during deliberations on the Defense Appropriations Act. Funding for each program within the CDMRP is determined through a rigorous legislative process involving grassroots advocacy, careful vetting by the appropriations committees and scrutiny from individual Members of Congress and the media.
While the CDMRPs have enjoyed significant bipartisan and bicameral support, there are those in Congress and the media who have criticized CDMRPs, or have suggested transferring the programs to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Continued budgetary pressures and renewed scrutiny of DoD medical research place the CDMRPs at considerable risk of losing funding in fiscal year 2017 and beyond. As an example, the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the fiscal year 217 National Defense Authorization Act included provisions that would have severely restricted, if not eliminated altogether, funding for the CDMRPs. On June 7, 2016, by a vote of 66-32, the Senate approved the Durbin amendment to remove these provisions and protect funding for the CDMRPs – the first time in recent history that funding for CDMRPs came to a recorded vote in Congress.
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