WATCH: Senate committee erupts in applause when GOP chair bucks Trump and votes for $2 billion in NIH research
Senate committee discusses health care (screen grab)

A Senate committee erupted in spontaneous applause last week after the Republican chairman announced that he had voted for a $2 billion increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Last week, the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee threw cold water on President Donald Trump's budget and recommended that the annual budget for NIH be set at $36.1 billion, a $2 billion increase.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) -- who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee -- was forced to leave a separate hearing on health care Thursday to cast his vote on NIH funding. He explained his absence after returning to the hearing.

"I apologize," Alexander said. "I had to step out and vote. I'm glad I did because for the third consecutive year we recommended to the Senate a $2 billion increase appropriations for the National Institutes of Health."

"That doesn't make many headlines," he added. "But it's very important."

Alexander was interrupted by applause from the committee members, the governors in attendance and the audience.

"Well, that was good," the chairman observed with a chuckle. "That doesn't happen much."

Watch the video below.