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Congress Passes Stopgap Funding Bill, Returns to Campaign Trail

Congress successfully passed a stopgap funding bill on September 28 to keep the government operating into fiscal year (FY) 2017, which began October 1. The bill will fund the government until December 9 and includes a number of policy and funding provisions that have been hotly debated in recent months, including funding to combat the Zika virus and the opioid epidemic, as well as aid in response to the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan and flooding in Louisiana. The text of the Continuing Resolution is available here. Congress will reconvene following the elections in November and what happens next remains uncertain. For full details of the fiscal year (FY) 2017 spending debate as it pertains to social science research, check out COSSA’s state of play analysis.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 4), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Congressional Supporters of 21st Century Cures Bill Hope for Passage by End of 114th Congress

Supporters of the 21st Century Cures legislation have not given up on seeing the legislation become law in the 114th Congress. On September 28, the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), respectively, released the following statement: “We continue our work on bipartisan legislation to spur cures and treatments and better health for Americans. We’ve been working for a year and a half on behalf of patients and scientists, and we are committed to getting a result this year that will lead to lifesaving medical breakthroughs and advance President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative and Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot.”
Similarly, a bipartisan group of House advocates for the House-passed 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 6) reiterated their support the legislation. The sponsors of H.R. 6, Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), and others noted: “We have been working hard for months, and we will continue to work toward an agreement that can pass both chambers and be signed by the president… At hand is a once-in-a-generation opportunity and we’re committed to getting 21st Century Cures signed into law this fall.”
It is unclear whether enough time remains to get a bill to the President’s desk before the 114th Congress concludes at the end of the year, especially given that the House and Senate are now on recess until after the November 8 elections, leaving only about 6 weeks to get it done.
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Posted in Issue 19 (October 4), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Lawmakers Poised to Pass Stopgap Funding, Return to Campaign Trail

Members of Congress are hoping to get out of town by the end of the week — a week early — to head back out on the campaign trail. However, at the time of this writing, challenges remain in negotiating a stopgap funding bill to keep the government operating into the next fiscal year, which begins on October 1. Lawmakers had planned to stay in session for the remainder of September, but noted earlier in the month that they were poised to strike a deal on a continuing resolution (CR) by this week, allowing them to head home until after the November elections. Despite the current impasse, it is expected that a CR will be enacted by the end of the month.
While the text of the CR is not yet available, reports indicate it will keep the government funded until December 9. What happens after that remains an open question, dependent entirely on the outcome of the elections and which party controls the Senate (which could flip). For full details of the fiscal year (FY) 2017 spending debate as it pertains to social science research, check out COSSA’s state of play analysis.
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Posted in Issue 18 (September 20), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Second Session of 114th Congress Gavels In, Funding Debates Quick out the Gate

The House and Senate have returned to Washington for the start of the second session of the 114th Congress. As previously reported, Congress was able to come up with a final agreement on fiscal year (FY) 2016 spending before leaving for the holiday break in December. Funding for agencies and programs important to the social and behavioral science research community was largely protected in the final bill, a positive outcome given the proposals that were floated earlier in the year.

Now attention turns to FY 2017. The President will unveil his final budget request on February 9, which will officially kick off the FY 2017 appropriations season. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) indicated in recent weeks that he would like to see the individual spending bills reach the House floor by as early as March, much earlier in the year than has been common practice. With the 2016 elections now less than 10 months away, it is hard to see Congress finding the political will to pass all 12 of the appropriations bills before Members leave Washington to hit the campaign trails in the summer and fall, especially considering that the House has scheduled only 110 working days in 2016; the Senate has 149 working days. Regardless, the next few months will be busy for advocates in Washington as Congress hurries to get as much work done as it can before the process shuts down to make way for the party conventions in July.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 12), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Congressional Committees Take Shape

Congressional committees with oversight for funding and policy issues impacting social and behavioral science have continued to take shape over the last few weeks. The 114th Congress was sworn in on January 6, though not all of the committees have officially chosen their chairs and ranking members. A number of committee organizational meetings are occurring this week, at which time the membership rolls and leadership appointments will be approved. You can stay apprised of the most current committee leadership appointments here.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 27), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

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