simply because these politicians have family members, friends, and constituents afflicted and they have obvious self-interest in continuing to "seek cures," however simply they understand it. Whether the biomedical research with any attention to public health and access will be funded--well, I doubt that. I suspect those goals need to fly well below the radar. Also, as you suggest, NSF and other basic research programs that can be explicitly tied to economic development or homeland security may be protected.
The American competitive granting system has become unsustainable over the last 20 years, related to the larger problems of neoliberal economics (generating from both parties), but I agree that the current GOP regime will become more explicit in targeting particular programs (like going after NSF's SBER funding). Because of crumbling universities and their ridiculous doubling down on going after sponsored funds in lieu of equitably redistributing resources from administration to faculty, the competition was already increasing even when funding levels remained at generous 1990s levels.
I've seen grant competitions with 30% funding rates hit about 1%. It's preposterous.
Re your personal situation, I've known so many poor academics--and many, many overpaid administrators--that I feel for you and don't see a lot of options within the current higher ed infrastructure.
If he's a decent writer, there's a real growth industry in consulting for foreign language researchers who wish to publish in English language journals. It pays 20-60 ish an hour, but if you've got a PhD in a biomedical field and strong editing skills, academic consulting companies can hire him freelance on an article by article basis. As for the grad students, well, it's probably the best pay in the academy they'll ever get and the sooner they start looking for other options (or investigating creating co-ops, barter economies, and homesteading skills), the less debt and re-skilling they'll need as things continue downward.
It's awful. I feel for you.