Failure to soon enact the fiscal year 2021 Defense Appropriations Act will result in cessation of critical Servicemembers and veteran medical research programs affecting veterans with Gulf War Illness and Burn Pits exposure
(Washington – September 10, 2020) – Today, 104 health and veteran advocacy organizations, including Veterans for Common Sense, joined in calling on Congressional leadership to work to enact the annual Defense spending bill that is currently stalled in the U.S. Senate.
Currently, a short-term continuing resolution has been proposed to prevent a government shutdown, which would result if the various annual spending bills already passed by the U.S. House are not enacted. A full-year continuing resolution would result in defunding, and cessation, of the critically important Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP).
Veterans for Common Sense annually fights for annual renewal of the treatment-focused Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP) and pushed for restoration of the Burn Pits Exposure topic area within the CDMRP’s Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program.
Earlier this year, Veterans for Common Sense and Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) also pushed for the inclusion of medical research regarding peripheral neuropathy, a debilitating condition that affects 30 million Americans including countless thousands of veterans. Vietnam War veterans appear to be significantly affected, and recent research has connected at least one form of peripheral neuropathy to service in the 1991 Gulf War.
Joining the The Quinism Foundation, Veterans for Common Sense also pushed for the U.S. Senate earlier this year to fund critical research into the chronic adverse neurological and psychiatric effects of mefloquine and related quinoline antimalarial drugs, following release of a report by a committee of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). The NAM committee was charged with looking at “long-term health effects” of antimalarial medication, with “special attention” “to possible long-term neurologic effects,” and “long-term psychiatric effects” — prevalent concerns among current and former military service members who took the drugs during military service in malaria-endemic regions. These advocacy efforts were overcome by the COVID-19 pandemic and the politicization of one antimalarial drug later found to be ineffective for the treatment of COVID-19, and the Senate did not include the request.
The letter joined by Veterans for Common Sense calls for Congress to work to enact the Fiscal Year 2021 Defense Appropriations Act, to ensure that the Defense Health Research Programs, including the CDMRP, are fully funded next year.
The full text is below.
September 10, 2020
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Speaker of the House Majority Leader, U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Kevin McCarthy The Honorable Chuck Schumer
Minority Leader Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20510
Dear Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader McCarthy, and Minority Leader Schumer:
We, the undersigned organizations urge you to work toward the enactment of the fiscal year 2021 Defense Appropriations Act, to ensure that the Defense Health Research Programs, including the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), are fully funded in fiscal year 2021.
Our organizations understand that Congress may need to pass a short-term continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown on October 1. However, we are particularly concerned about the possibility of Congress enacting a year-long continuing resolution in lieu of completing the fiscal year 2021 Defense Appropriations Act. Under a year-long continuing resolution the CDMRP would receive no funding in fiscal year 2021. Failure to enact the Defense Appropriations Act will have major negative health implications for the millions of Americans – especially veterans, military service members and their families – who live with chronic and debilitating disorders. This will delay important new discoveries and translation of medical innovation into new treatments and cures for many disorders.
We collectively represent millions of American veterans, military retirees, military families, and civilians who benefit from the ongoing research funded by the Defense Health Research Programs at the Department of Defense (DoD). We have worked tirelessly to advocate for continued funding for the programs, and we were pleased to see that the House version of the fiscal year 2021 Defense Appropriations Act includes strong funding levels for medical research.
The Defense Health Research Programs will be unable to fully prepare for the fiscal year 2021 grant solicitation process until they receive a fully-enacted fiscal year 2021 budget. The CDMRP annually receives more than 12,000 pre-applications and 7,000 full applications for grants and undergoes a rigorous process to evaluate and fund the best of these applications. Further delay in enacting the fiscal year 2021 appropriations bill will create unnecessary disruption with internal processes at DoD.
These delays will have systemic impacts on the way the DoD convenes programmatic panels to identify and implement programmatic changes and peer-review panels to provide thorough review of grant applications, and ultimately impact the ability of the DoD to conduct appropriate negotiations to award fiscal year 2021 grants. Further, failure to enact a fully-funded fiscal year 2021 budget will compromise the ability of scientific laboratories across the U.S to effectively plan and prepare the highest quality grant applications, potentially diminishing opportunities to maintain discovery-based research programs and disrupting critical scientific workforces.
The CDMRP is a critical component of the Defense Appropriations Act, and failure to enact this legislation will have a devastating impact on the program. Aside from the obvious biomedical and economic consequences of such actions, such as stalling or eliminating the critical development of new and more effective therapies that lower costs and save lives, failure to enact will interrupt important pipelines that have allowed investigators at U.S. medical research institutions to build careers and act on new and innovative medical research ideas.
We therefore urge you to work together in a bipartisan, bicameral spirit and enact the fiscal year 2021 Defense Appropriations Act.
Action to Cure Kidney Cancer
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
American Academy of Dermatology Association
American Academy of Neurology
American Association for Cancer Research
American Association for Dental Research
American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association
American Brain Tumor Association
American College of Rheumatology
American Gastroenterological Association
American Psychological Association
American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
American Society for Microbiology
American Urological Association
Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation
APS Foundation of America, Inc
Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization
Association of American Cancer Institutes
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
Batten Disease Support and Research Association
Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network
Bridge the Gap – Syngap Education and Research Foundation
Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis
Burn Pits 360 Veterans Organization
Child Neurology Foundation
Children’s Tumor Foundation
Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE)
Coalition for National Security Research
Colorectal Cancer Alliance
Danny Did Foundation
Deadliest Cancers Coalition
Debbie’s Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer
debra of America
Epilepsy Leadership Council
Fight Colorectal Cancer
Foundation to Eradicate Duchenne
George Mason University
Global Health Technologies Coalition
GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer
Hepatitis B Foundation
HIV Medicine Association
Infectious Diseases Society of America
International Myeloma Foundation
International Pemphigus Pemphigoid Foundation
Kidney Cancer Association
Littlest Tumor Foundation
Living Beyond Breast Cancer
Lupus and Allied Diseases Association, Inc.
Lupus Foundation of America
Lymphoma Research Foundation
Melanoma Research Foundation
Miami Project to Cure Paralysis
Michigan State University
National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research
National Alliance of State Prostate Cancer Coalitions
National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health (NPWH)
National Autism Association
National Brain Tumor Society
National Fragile X Foundation
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
National Pancreas Foundation
National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition
Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy
Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials Consortium
Prostate Cancer Foundation
Prostate Conditions Education Council
Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation
Sergeant Sullivan Circle
St. Baldrick’s Foundation
Susan G. Komen
Texas NF Foundation
Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance
University of Central Florida
University of Iowa
Veterans for Common Sense
Wayne State University
Weill Cornell Medicine
ZERO-The End of Prostate Cancer
cc: House and Senate Committee on Appropriations