Senate Appropriations Committee Acts on Labor-HHS Funding Bill and Includes APA-inspired Language

The Senate Appropriations Committee this week reported its version of the Fiscal Year 2005 legislation that will fund the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education.

The Senate Appropriations Committee this week reported its version of the Fiscal Year 2005 legislation that will fund the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education. The House version of the bill passed on September 9th. The Senate Committee version will likely not be brought to a vote independently (but as a part of a larger spending package - see related story). The report accompanying the Senate bill is always closely scrutinized by federal agencies and policymakers, because while its language is not binding in a strict legal sense, it includes suggestions and veiled directions from Congress. Each year APA drafts language that would be helpful in promoting and expanding behavioral research, and encourages Senators to include the suggestions in the Senate Appropriations report. Below a  re some examples of report language added by Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI).

Review of Basic Behavioral Research -The Committee notes with interest that NIH has undertaken a review of basic behavioral and social sciences research funded by the National Institutes of Health. A working group, composed of outside scientists and chaired by a member of the Advisory Council to the NIH Director, is charged in part with reviewing NIH's portfolio and identifying areas of opportunity in basic behavioral and social sciences, consistent with NIH's mission, that NIH should consider supporting. Basic research in these sciences is fundamental to an understanding of the mechanisms of sensation and perception, development, learning and memory, and group dynamics and behavior, among other areas. The Committee reiterates its support for NIH's history of investment in basic behavioral and social sciences research and looks forward to reviewing the report of the working group.

Psychoneuroimmunology and cancer -The Committee is interested in NCI's initiative to evaluate the complex interrelationships among emotional, behavioral, neural and immunological processes and how they may affect the etiology and progression of cancer. NCI's BiMPED initiative is a good example of leveraging the institute's resources to seed new research across NIH on fundamental mechanisms and processes that may affect multiple diseases and conditions.

Behavioral Research and Older Workers - The Committee encourages NIA to expand research on the needs of older workers. Since more baby boomers will be working well beyond the traditional age of retirement, more information is needed about the ways in which workplaces and workplace technology can be better designed to accommodate the needs of older workers. National Children's Study- The Committee strongly supports full and timely implementation of the National Children's Study. This study aims to quantify the impacts of a broad range of environment influences, including physical, chemical, biological and social influences, on child health and development. The Committee urges the NICHD to coordinate the involvement of the Department, the lead Federal partners--CDC, EPA, and NIEHS--and other interested institutes, agencies, and non-Federal partners conducting research on children's environmental health and development, such that this study is ready for the field no later than 2006.

Drug Abuse and HIV/AIDS --
The Committee understands HIV/AIDS continues to disproportionately affect vulnerable populations in the United States (e.g., criminal justice populations, pregnant women, minorities, and youth) and that drug abuse is often a factor in transmission of this disease. Therefore, the Committee urges NIDA to continue its support of research that is focused on the development and testing of drug-abuse related interventions designed to reduce the spread HIV/AIDS in these populations.

Behavioral Science - The Committee is aware that NIMH is reviewing its portfolio in basic behavioral science and encourages NIMH to continue its commitment to strengthen behavioral research that examines the basic psychological functions that promote mental health or become disturbed in mental disorders. The Committee further recognizes the potential contribution of research on cognitive, personality, emotional, and social processes that underlie behavioral functioning and urges their inclusion in inter-disciplinary research. The Committee is pleased that the National Mental Health Advisory Council has established a basic science working group and looks forward to receiving a report on the working group's conclusions regarding research opportunities in basic behavioral sciences relating to mental health.

Behavioral Research and Measurement of Cognitive Function - The Committee applauds the efforts of NINDS to understand the mechanisms of executive function and ways to enhance cognitive rehabilitation for neurological disease. The Committee commends NINDS for its leadership in research to develop and validate neuropsychological test batteries and other instruments needed to measure executive function, including higher level cognitive processes such as working memory, decision-making, anticipation, and planning. Such tests are critical measurement tools for establishing the efficacy of interventions in NINDS clinical trials.

Institute of Education Sciences (IES)

The Committee recognizes the critical role that IES plays in achieving the important goals set by the No Child Left Behind Act and encourages IES to continue its progress in translating scientifically based research findings into classroom practice. The Committee is interested in support for programs that bring advances in cognitive, developmental, educational science and neuroscience into the classroom by informing curriculum development in schools and in graduate schools of education. Research that focuses on the key processes of attention, memory, and reasoning are essential for learning and are likely to produce substantial gains in academic achievement. The Committee also supports the Institute's research investments in reading comprehension, teacher quality, English language learners, and educational interventions in mathematics, science and reading.