Congress to Reconvene and Another Appropriations Process to Begin
January 17, 2012
by Paula Skedsvold
The Second Session of the 112th Congress is formally getting underway this week. Before 2011 ended, House and Senate conferees had agreed on a spending package that included the nine remaining appropriations bills for FY 2012. NIH received funding at $30.7 billion, an increase of $299 million over FY 2011 levels, minus a .189 percent across the board cut for all programs in the Labor-HHS-Education section of the omnibus bill.
The December agreement included language to eliminate NIH’s National Center for Research Resources and create the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). Thomas Insel, M.D., director of NIMH, will serve as NCATS Acting Director until a director is hired. Meanwhile, NIGMS has begun the process of absorbing some of NCRR’s programs.
NSF funding for FY 2012 was determined earlier. In November 2011, Congress passed its first set of appropriations bills for FY 2012, providing $7 billion for NSF, an increase of $173 million over FY 2011 funding. The bulk of the increase went to the “research” account line, while the Education and Human Resources Directorate lost $32 million from the prior year level. Overall, the two spending packages kept Congress within the debt ceiling agreement reached last summer.
With FY 2012 appropriations bills complete, attention will now turn to FY 2013. The President’s budget request for FY 2013 is being drafted and is scheduled to be sent to Congress on Feb. 6th. In addition, there will continue to be efforts to reverse the automatic cuts to defense spending set to begin in January 2013, cuts that were triggered when the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction could not reach agreement. Science advocates will also engage Congress and the administration on the impact of the sequester on non-defense spending as well, and especially the impact of the non-defense part of the budget absorbing more than its share of cuts. Given that this is an election year, the process is not likely to get any easier.