Senate Votes Will Set Direction on Spending Cuts

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote perhaps as early as today, March 8, 2011, on two Continuing Resolutions (CRs) that Majority Leader Harry Reid says will reflect the values of Congress, in particular the level of cuts and where they would occur. On February 19, 2011, the U.S. House passed a Continuing Resolution, H.R. 1, that would make significant cuts to spending, including cuts to science funding at NIH and NSF, in the current fiscal year. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been pushing for a vote on H.R. 1 in the Senate.

It appears that Senators will be able to vote on H.R. 1 as well as a Democratic alternative that reduces government spending by $51 billion below the President’s request for the fiscal year. H.R. 1 cuts spending in FY 2011 by $100 billion from the President’s request. The alternative CR maintains NIH funding at FY 2010 levels, makes smaller cuts to NSF, and restores most funding to two Institute of Education Sciences’ programs - Regional Education Labs and Stateside Data Systems. Although neither CR is expected to get the 60 votes needed to avert a filibuster, the votes may help shape the final outcome for fiscal year 2011.

We will keep you abreast of other developments in this area.

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