As New Fiscal Year Approaches, CR Likely -- Again

August 17, 2011

by Paula Skedsvold

Fiscal Year 2012 officially begins on October 1, 2011, but neither the House nor Senate has completed work on the 12 appropriations bills. On the House side, 6 spending bills have passed, while a total of 9 have moved through the Appropriations Committee. Funding for NSF in FY 2012 is still uncertain, as a vote on the Commerce-Justice-Science bill has not occurred on the House floor. Although the House Appropriations Committee approved the bill with approximately a $7 million decrease from the FY 2011 level, amendments could be offered on the House floor that would shift funds to other priorities. For behavioral and social scientists, the news is good so far: there were no targeted cuts to the SBE Directorate in Committee. Your voices have been heard, but scientists must continue to speak to their elected officials to win the battle on the House floor.

Funding for NIH has yet to be addressed by the House. The Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill is one of the remaining spending measures that will be considered when the House returns from its August break. Since Part 1 of the debt ceiling deal provides a new top-line number for FY 2012 that is considerably more than the House-passed budget resolution, spending cuts in the House may be offset to some degree in the Senate. (The Senate is using the new number as its starting point.)

One the other side of Capitol Hill, Senators had postponed passing a budget resolution as they waited for progress on the debt deal to provide a top-line number for spending in FY 2012. Without the resolution, appropriations subcommittee spending allocations were unknown. With at least the initial work on the debt ceiling complete, Senate appropriators are moving ahead in drafting spending bills. To date, only one bill that had bipartisan support (Military Construction-VA) has passed the Senate.

With all eyes on the “super committee” and next phase of the deficit reduction discussions, progress on appropriations to keep the government open beyond September 30 must also occur. As in prior years, Congress will likely pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) toward the end of September until an omnibus spending bill is passed.