November 22, 2017

NIH Public Access Policy Finally Passes Congress

By Andrew Albanese

The Senate on October 23 overwhelmingly passed an appropriations bill that includes a public access directive for research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Despite heavy lobbying from publishers against the public access provision, White House opposition, and two last-second amendments to gut the policy introduced by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the legislative battle culminated with the Senate approving the Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill (75-19) with the NIH language fully intact. If enacted, NIH researchers would be required to deposit their papers in the NIH’s PubMed Central database to be made publicly available within a year after publication.
The legislative process, however, is far from over. The bill must now be reconciled with the House Appropriations Bill, which contains a similar public access provision, and then faces an expected veto from President Bush. Nevertheless, SPARC executive director Heather Joseph said that even though the prospect of a veto looms passage of the policy was “a milestone.