Inside (the Beltway) Scoop

By | May 11, 2017

Congress Passes Bill Including Funding Increases for Research Agencies; President’s Budget Proposal Expected in Late May; Senators Advocate for the National Institutes of Health

It took three “continuing resolutions,” protracted negotiations over nearly a year, and the threat of a government shutdown, but Congress finally approved an omnibus appropriations bill (HR 244) seven months after fiscal year (FY) 2017 began. The bill included full year appropriations (through September 30, 2017) for nearly all government agencies at an overall discretionary funding level of $1.070 trillion. This total reflects the $30 billion in additional spending that was included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (Public Law 114-74).

In great news for the research community, the legislation contained $34.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the second consecutive two billion dollar increase for the agency. The top-line NIH funding level also included $352 million for targeted research projects funded by the 21st Century Cures Act passed by Congress in late 2016.  Other science agencies received additional funding as follows:

AGENCY FY 2016 FUNDING LEVEL FY 2017 FUNDING LEVEL CHANGE FROM FY 2016-FY 2017
National Institutes of Health $32 billion $34.08 billion +$2 billion

(6.2%)

National Science Foundation $7.46 billion $7.47 billion +$9 million

(0.13%)

Department of Energy Office of Science $5.35 billion $5.39 +$42 million

(0.75%)

Agriculture & Food Research Initiative

Agricultural Research Service

$350 million

 

$1.14 billion

$375 million

 

$1.17 billion

+$25 million

(7.14%)

+$26 million

(2.63%)

On May 3, the House of Representatives passed HR 244 by a vote of 309-118. The Senate’s 79-18 vote the next day sent the bill to the White House. President Donald J. Trump signed the legislation into law on May 5.

Advocates led by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) and many other organizations were instrumental in urging Congress to complete work on the FY 2017 budget. FASEB issued multiple e-action alerts since last fall, generating more than 7,000 emails to members of Congress and more than 900 phone calls to Capitol Hill offices in the days before the final vote. FASEB also issued a statement thanking the Appropriations Committee leadership for the proposed funding increases.

With FY 2017 funding decisions resolved, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will begin work on the FY 2018 budget in the next few weeks. More details about President Trump’s 2018 budget request are expected to be delivered to Capitol Hill the week of May 22. A budget outline released by the President in mid-March proposed a nearly 20 percent cut in NIH funding and a $900 million (approximately 17 percent) reduction for the Department of Energy Office of Science. The proposed funding cut for NIH drew significant bipartisan opposition when it was announced and has very little chance of being approved by legislators. Last month, Representatives David McKinley (R-WV), Susan Davis (D-CA), Peter King (R-NY), and Andre Carson (D-IN) and 202 of their House colleagues signed a letter supporting another two billion dollar increase for NIH in 2018. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) are currently circulating a similar statement urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to “maintain a strong commitment” to funding for NIH in FY 2018.

FASEB will host a webinar on May 23 that will provide an overview of the proposed cuts, the key steps involved in the federal budget process, and guidance on what individual scientists can do to urge lawmakers to reject the President’s budget. The webinar is open to the public. Please RSVP here.

In great news for the research community, the legislation contained $34.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the second consecutive two billion dollar increase for the agency. The top-line NIH funding level also included $352 million for targeted research projects funded by the 21st Century Cures Act passed by Congress in late 2016.  Other science agencies received additional funding as follows:

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