CINCINNATI, OH —Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined Cincinnati-area workers and business leaders at the proposed site of the new National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) facility as funding cuts threaten the future of the project.
“We’re calling on the administration to keep its commitment to Cincinnati, and make sure the NIOSH project can continue on schedule,” said Brown. “We can’t put these Ohio jobs at risk, and we can’t put at risk the important work NIOSH does to keep workers safe on the job.”
Last week, the Trump Administration proposed a “rescission package,” which would take back federal dollars intended for a wide range of projects and programs in order pay for the $1 trillion deficit created by Republican tax cuts. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on that package as early as next week.
Among other cuts, the package would slash the fund that is supposed to pay for construction of Cincinnati’s new NIOSH facility in half. Brown, underscoring the importance of jobs and economic impact created by the NIOSH project, is calling on the Administration to tell Ohio how it will keep its commitment to move forward with the NIOSH project after the fund is cut.
Brown was joined today by Dr. Richard Lofgren, President and CEO of U.C. Health and board member for the Uptown Business Consortium, and Fred Lampe, Executive Secretary of the Cincinnati Building Trades.
“A NIOSH facility in Uptown is what the region has been working toward. This next-generation facility will anchor the Uptown Innovation Corridor, a mixed-use district designed as a magnet for highly competitive innovative talent, research and industry. Uptown NIOSH will build on 30+ years of research and collaboration with the University of Cincinnati to forge research partnerships with Uptown medical institutions and attract new companies, Investments and attention to our region,” said Beth Robinson, Executive Director of the Uptown Business Consortium.
“NIOSH has been to the Bricklayers Local 18 Training Facility in Batavia to educate people on the Silica Standards. So the good work they do is the reason this facility needs to get built as much or more than the jobs it will create,” said Fred Lampe.
In 2015, Brown helped secure $110 million in federal funds to advance construction and site consolidation for NIOSH’s new facility in Cincinnati. That money is supposed to come from the nonrecurring expense fund (NEF) at the Department of Health and Human Services, which currently has about $500 million for NIOSH and other projects.
Brown has worked to protect that fund from cuts for years in order to ensure the NIOSH construction continues moving forward. And up until now, the project had been proceeding on schedule. In fact, CDC recently solicited bids for a design-build contract.
But, the Administration’s rescission package would take $220 million away from the nonrecurring expense fund – cutting the fund by about half. So Brown is asking the Administration for assurances that the nonrecurring expense fund can still pay for NIOSH and keep the project on schedule.
As part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NIOSH is responsible for conducting research and making recommendations to prevent work-related injury and illness. The NIOSH facilities in Cincinnati employ more than 500 Ohioans.
The new construction project will consolidate NIOSH’s Cincinnati facilities into one central location to improve and enhance scientific collaboration, as employees conduct research and make recommendations to prevent work-related injury and illness. The funding will also ensure that there are appropriate and adequate research facilities for NIOSH’s scientific program and will reduce operating costs by consolidating multiple campuses.