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House Releases Draft Ag, CJS Appropriations Bills; Some Details Still Unclear

In the weeks leading up to the Independence Day recess, several House Subcommittees began their work for fiscal year (FY) 2018 in earnest by marking up draft appropriation bills, including the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies (June 28) and the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) (June 29).  While the text of the draft bills has been released, it is unlikely that their accompanying committee reports, which include more detailed information on funding and policy riders, will be made available until just before the bills are marked up by the full Appropriations Committee. Once that information is released, COSSA will produce a full analysis of both bills. Preliminary details on the House FY 2018 CJS and Agriculture bills follow.

The draft FY 2018 CJS appropriations bill, which the subcommittee marked up on June 29, includes $7.3 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF), a $133 million cut compared to FY 2017 but 10.3 percent more than the amount requested by the Trump Administration. Most of the subaccounts within the NSF budget, including the Research and Related Activities account, would be flat compared to FY 2017. The exception is NSF’s Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account, which would be cut by 62.8 percent compared to FY 2017. The bill’s proposal for the Census Bureau would provide it with $1.507 billion in FY 2018, an increase of $37 million more than the amount enacted in FY 2017 and $12.6 million above the Administration’s requested amount. Within that amount, $1.251 billion is provided for Periodic Censuses and Programs, which includes the 2020 Census, an increase of $51 million compared to FY 2017. The bill would also provide the Bureau’s Periodic Surveys and Programs with $256 million, a $14 million cut compared to the FY 2017 enacted level.

The House’s FY 2018 appropriations bill for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which was approved by the subcommittee on June 28, largely accepts the Administration’s proposed cuts to USDA statistical agencies (see COSSA’s full analysis of the President’s budget request). The bill would provide $76.8 million to the Economic Research Service (ERS), a roughly $10 million or 11.5 percent cut compared to FY 2017. This amount is 0.1 percent more than the amount requested by the President. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) would receive a total of $183.8 million, 1.2 percent less than the amount request by the Administration and an increase of 7.3 percent from FY 2017. NASS will conduct its Census of Agriculture in 2018 and the increase is part of a scheduled ramp-up. While the House bill would provide NASS overall with less than the amount requested by the Administration, it would allocate more of that money to Census of Agriculture activities, leaving even less funding available for NASS’ other Agricultural Estimates programs. While the total discretionary funding level proposed for the National Institute of Agriculture (NIFA) is not detailed in the draft legislation, the bill does specify a total of $830.4 million for NIFA’s Research and Education Programs, which include the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). This amount is a 2.3 percent cut from FY 2107, but 7.9 percent more than the President’s request.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 11), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

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)

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)

Sam Farr, Ranking Member on House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, Announces Retirement

Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) announced his retirement from Congress at the end of his term after 22 years in the House. Farr is the Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. As Ranking Member, Farr has been a vocal advocate for agricultural science and statistics, memorably speaking out on the House floor against a proposed amendment to cut funding for the Economic Research Service (ERS) in 2014. It remains to be seen who will fill Farr’s spot. Currently, only three other Democrats serve on the Subcommittee.

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Posted in Issue 21 (November 17), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

Outcome of Midterm Elections May Not Offer Clarity over FY 2015 Endgame

The remaining weeks of 2014 could see an effort to pass a sweeping omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2015, should the Republicans gain control of the Senate after the midterm Congressional elections tomorrow. Even though the Democrats would still control the Senate until January, Republican leaders have stated that under such a scenario they would work during the lame duck session to pass an omnibus, allowing the 114th Congress to start in January with a clean slate. However, such a feat has proven impossible in recent history. For example, the FY 2014 appropriations process was not completed until January of this year, and the stalemate over the FY 2013 appropriations bills led to the 16-day federal government shutdown; the FY 2013 appropriations process finally concluded six months into the fiscal year.

The federal government in currently operating under a continuing resolution (CR) until December 11 (see the September 22, 2014 COSSA Washington Update). Though the midterm elections will take place tomorrow, given the closeness of a handful of key Senate races that could result in runoffs, it may not be immediately clear which party will control the Senate in 2015. It also leaves the outlook for completion of the FY 2015 appropriations bills unclear.

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Posted in Issue 20 (November 3), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

Funding Bills Punted Until After Midterm Elections

The House and Senate easily passed a continuing resolution (CR), or temporary spending measure, last week to keep the federal government operating through December 11. With fiscal year (FY) 2015 approaching on October 1, Congress was not able to complete its work on the FY 2015 appropriations bills before adjourning again to campaign for November’s midterm elections. The CR (H.J. Res. 124) totals $1.012 trillion and extends current year (FY 2014) funding and policy directives into the first 10 weeks of FY 2015. In addition, the bill includes an across-the-board cut of 0.0554 percent to keep spending within the discretionary budget caps set in late 2013. (more…)

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 22), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

House Appropriations Committee Democrats Introduce FY 2015 Labor, HHS, and Education Bill

On September 15, the Democratic members of the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations Subcommittee (Labor-HHS), led by Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), introduced their version of a fiscal year (FY) 2015 funding bill for the programs within the Subcommittee’s jurisdiction. The Labor-HHS bill is the only appropriations bill that has yet to be considered by the full House Appropriations Committee. Thus far, the Subcommittee’s Republican majority has given no indication that it intends to introduce a Labor-HHS bill this year. This is the second consecutive year and third year out of the last four that the Subcommittee has not introduced the always contentious appropriations measure. It is very unlikely that the Democratic measure will be considered by the Subcommittee. The House and Senate recently passed a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government through December 11, 2014, postponing consideration of any funding bills until after the midterm elections. (more…)

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 22), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

Congress Returns this Week for Short, Packed Work Period

The House and Senate return to Washington this week from their month-long August recess. They have only a couple of weeks to address a number of major policy issues, such as immigration, the child migrant crisis on the border, and ongoing foreign conflicts, before both chambers adjourn again until after the November midterm elections. Among the to-dos in the coming weeks is consideration of a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government operating into fiscal year (FY) 2015, which begins on October 1. The outcome of the elections weighs heavily on potential end-game strategies for the FY 2015 appropriations bills, with much hinging on whether the Democrats maintain control of the Senate or lose the majority to the Republicans.

For a recap on the current status of the FY 2015 appropriations bills important to the COSSA community, please see the August 11, 2014 COSSA Washington Update.

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Posted in Issue 16 (September 8), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

Social Scientists among 2014 Golden Goose Awardees

On September 18, the scientific community and policy makers will come together to celebrate the winners of this year’s Golden Goose Award at a ceremony in Washington, DC. The Golden Goose Award honors scientists whose research funded by the federal government has yielded major benefits to society, which could not have been anticipated at the time of funding. Among the 2014 awardees is a group of scientists whose research studying the impact of maternal absence on infant rats has significantly improved the ability of premature babies to thrive and has saved billions in health care costs and a group of economists who applied basic research on game theory to assist the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in setting allocations for auctioning the telecommunications spectrum, which has yielded more than $60 billion in revenue for the federal government. COSSA is a supporter of the 2014 Golden Goose Award.

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Posted in Issue 16 (September 8), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

Analysis of FY 2015 Senate Labor-HHS Bill

In late July, the Senate Appropriations Committee released the text of its fiscal year (FY) 2015 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) appropriations bill. This is the annual spending bill that provides funding to the National Institutes of Health and other HHS agencies, the Department of Education, and the Department of Labor, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As previously reported, the bill was approved by the Labor-HHS Subcommittee in June, but action has since stalled. It is unclear if or when the full Senate Appropriations Committee will take up the bill.

COSSA’s full analysis of the Senate bill is available here.

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Posted in Issue 15 (August 11), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

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