Details Emerge on Final Spending Bill for FY 2011

April 15, 2011

At long last, the U.S. House, U.S. Senate, and the White House were able to reach agreement on a final measure to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011. Yesterday, both the House and Senate passed H.R. 1473, and the President is expected to sign the bill today, hours before the latest Continuing Resolution would expire.

The final bill is indeed a compromise. It includes cuts to science agencies, but many of these are considerably smaller than those included in H.R. 1, the House-passed CR that was rejected by the Senate. In the final bill, NIH funding is reduced by $260 million ($210 million as a pro rata reduction from all Institutes, Centers, and Offices at NIH, and $50 million from a building and facilities account).

In addition, the bill makes a 0.2 percent across-the-board cut for all non-defense discretionary spending, bringing the total NIH cut to about 1 percent. The spending bill also requires the Government Accountability Office to conduct an audit of comparative effectiveness research (CER) funding under NIH, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and any other HHS agency receiving CER funding using stimulus funds.

Likewise, NSF received cuts totaling about 1 percent relative to FY 2010 funding levels. The Research and Related Activities account is cut by $42 million and Education and Human Resources by $10 million. The 0.2 percent across-the- board cut brings NSF’s total reduction to $65.75 million below current levels. The Coalition for National Science Funding estimates that the NSF cuts will translate into 134 fewer awards and 1,500 fewer researchers, students, teachers, and technical support personnel than in FY 2010.

According to House Appropriations Committee figures, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) will receive a $49 million cut from FY 2010, in addition to the 0.2 percent across-the-board cut. IES, especially the Regional Education Labs and Statewide Data Systems, were slated for more significant cuts under H.R. 1.

Now that the fiscal year 2011 funding cycle is finally coming to a close, attention will shift to the FY 2012 budget resolution where significant cuts are also proposed.