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NIH Launches HEAL Initiative to Address the Opioid Epidemic

On April 4, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced a new effort to accelerate progress toward addressing the opioid addiction crisis. The Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative will use the increase in NIH funding provided by the FY 2018 omnibus bill to nearly double funding for research on opioid misuse/addiction and pain compared to FY 2016 ($1.1 billion compared to $600 million). The initiative will fund research in two broad areas: (1) Prevent addiction through enhanced pain management, and (2) Improve treatments for opioid misuse disorder and addiction. Within the preventing addiction portfolio, NIH proposes to launch a longitudinal study to follow patients at risk for chronic pain and to fund research on understanding “the genetic and social factors that put patients at risk for opioid misuse and addiction.” As part of its improving addiction treatment efforts, the Institute also plans to “assess the additive role of social and behavioral interventions” to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) programs. More information about the initiative is posted on the NIH website.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 17), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Congress Approves Fiscal Year 2018 Funding; Cochran Retires

On March 23, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 into law, finalizing appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2018 nearly six months after the fiscal year began. The omnibus bill includes all 12 individual appropriations bills and will fund the federal government through September 30, 2018. This bill came after a bipartisan deal was reached to raise spending caps, which resulted in increases for many programs across the government – including those important to the social and behavioral sciences. The omnibus also served as a last hurrah for Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), chair of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, who announced that he will retire effective April 1 after serving in the Senate for 40 years. Cochran’s successor will be Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, who has most recently served as Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the FY 2018 omnibus appropriations bill.

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Posted in Issue 7 (April 3), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Congress Passes Bipartisan Budget Deal to Raise Spending Caps, Keep Government Open Until March 23

On February 9, Congressional leaders reached an agreement on a two-year deal to raise the budget caps that have limited federal spending since 2011. As COSSA has previously reported, these spending caps have limited the ability of Congress to pass full-year appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2018 and diminished the chances of federal science agencies would see funding increases.

The budget deal, known as the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, increases discretionary spending by $385 billion above the existing caps for the next two years. This increase includes $131 billion in non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding, which includes federal research funding. The deal also includes additional funds to areas affected by natural disasters and funds for the Census Bureau to continue to prepare for the 2020 Census. This budget agreement is seen as major progress in a difficult fiscal and political environment.

Next on the appropriations agenda will be funding the government after March 23. The budget deal that passed on February 9 included another continuing resolution (CR) to maintain FY 2017 funding levels through March 23 to give Congressional leaders more time to finalize FY 2018 spending. Read COSSA’s full coverage of FY 2018 appropriations here.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 20), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Government Funding Remains Uncertain; Another Stopgap Likely

Four months after fiscal year (FY) 2018 began, Congress seems no closer to appropriating funds for the remainder of the fiscal year or agreeing on top-line spending levels. The government is currently operating under a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) until February 8 and some Congressional leaders are considering a fifth CR that could fund the government into March. Larger policy debates, including immigration, have created a stalemate that must be resolved before spending levels or FY 2018 appropriations can be finalized. Further complicating this dynamic is the fact that Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, announced that he will retire at the end of this Congress after leading the committee for only one year, injecting even more confusion into an already uncertain future of Congressional appropriations.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 6), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

After Three-Day Shutdown, Congress Passes Funding through February 8

Congressional leaders came to an agreement on January 22 to reopen the government after a three-day shutdown by passing another stopgap spending bill, this time to keep the government open and flat-funded until February 8. Fiscal year (FY) 2018 started October 1, 2017 and Congress has yet to pass any appropriation bills for the year.

Congress came to the funding impasse on January 19 after the Senate failed to reach an agreement on immigration policy, which will now likely occupy much of Congress’ energy until the continuing resolution expires on February 8, at which point the federal government could be facing yet another shutdown. As COSSA has previously reported, Congress must also come to an agreement on the top-line spending levels allowed by law before finishing the FY 2018 appropriations process. Read more of COSSA’s reporting on FY 2018 here.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 23), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Congress Returns from Recess Focused on Funding

Members of Congress returned from their holiday recess this week to a government funded under yet another stop-gap measure that is set to expire on January 19. Fiscal year (FY) 2018 started October 1 and Congress has yet to pass any appropriation bills for the year. Before any of the proposed legislation can be sent to the President’s desk, Congress must come to an agreement on the top-line spending levels allowed by law. These budget caps will decrease in FY 2018 under the Budget Control Act through sequestration, unless Congress passes a deal to increase the spending levels.

The renewed focus on government funding comes after Congressional Republicans passed their much-anticipated tax cut before the winter holidays. While the final tax bill did not include problematic proposed provisions to classify graduate student tuition waivers as taxable income, the tax plan would still add an estimated trillion dollars to the federal deficit over the next decade, which would likely lead to significant cuts to non-defense discretionary funding down the line, including federal research programs.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 9), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Congress Passes Two-Week Stopgap Funding Bill, Returns to Debate Spending and Taxes

Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) on the evening of December 7 to continue federal appropriations through December 22, averting a partial government shutdown. The extension of fiscal year (FY) 2017 funding levels through this CR will give Congress more time to finalize FY 2018 spending and come to agreement on raising spending caps set in place by the Budget Control Act. While the House of Representatives has finished work on all twelve of its spending bills, the Senate has yet to vote on any, referencing a lack of agreement on overall spending levels.

In addition to finalizing spending for the current fiscal year, House and Senate Republicans continue to negotiate differences on their proposed tax overhaul. Debate on taxes and annual appropriations will likely carry them to, if not past, their scheduled Christmas recess. Read more of COSSA’s coverage of the tax debate here and FY 2018 spending here.

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Posted in Issue 24 (December 12), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Budget Deal to Raise Spending Caps in Negotiation; Senate Releases Remaining Appropriations Bills

Congressional leaders have indicated over the past few weeks that they plan to extend the current continuing resolution under which the government is operating past its December 8 expiration date. Extending the continuing resolution will give Congress more time to wrap up fiscal year (FY) 2018 appropriations and reach a deal to raise spending caps. According to the latest reports, Congressional Republicans are proposing an increase of $54 billion in defense spending and $37 billion in nondefense spending, which includes federal science agencies, for the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years.

While the House of Representatives completed its work on the FY 2018 appropriations in September, the Senate has moved more slowly; only eight of the twelve spending bills have passed the Appropriations Committee, and none have received a vote of the full Senate. The remaining four spending bills were released last week and will likely be considered by the Appropriations committee in the coming days. Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) added in his statement regarding the FY 2018 appropriations outlook that the Committee needs a new budget deal to finish their work, as much of their proposed spending is higher than the statutory spending caps in the Budget Control Act.

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Posted in Issue 23 (November 28), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Senate Continues Working as To-Do List and Uncertainty Grows

The Senate hopes to pass a budget resolution for fiscal year (FY) 2018 this week while Congress’ to-do list and uncertainty surrounding the FY 2018 spending bills continues to grow. With only 37 working days for the Senate and 28 working days for the House left in the year, Congress hopes to pass a budget resolution, overhaul the tax code, create a plan to fund the government after December 8, and strike a deal to raise the debt ceiling. The House narrowly passed a budget resolution in early October that proposed major cuts to entitlement programs and non-defense discretionary programs, which includes the federal basic science agencies.

Providing more uncertainty for the Senate is the absence of Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) this week as he recovers in Mississippi from a medical issue. Cochran is the chair of the Appropriations Committee and a reliable vote for the Senate’s narrow Republican majority.

Keep up on the latest funding developments on the COSSA website.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 3), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

House Passes Omnibus Spending Bill Along with Problematic NSF Amendment

After two weeks of debate and votes on hundreds of amendments, the House of Representatives has passed an omnibus spending bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, consisting of all twelve spending bills. The omnibus includes the same funding levels for social science research as the Commerce-Justice-Science and Labor-Health and Human Services-Education bills that were passed by the House Appropriations Committee. While the proposed funding levels were moderately good for social and behavioral science research, the House approved an amendment proposed by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), the chair of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, that could be detrimental to the social sciences. The amendment would require that about $30 million (or 0.5 percent) of the Research and Related Activities account at the National Science Foundation (NSF) be used only to support basic research in the biological and physical sciences. NSF currently prioritizes research investments based on the advice of its own experts and scholars and if this amendment became law, it could result in political influence into the NSF research process.

Two other amendments that targeted the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and the Census Bureau, proposed by Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) and Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) respectively, were not taken up for consideration on the floor and therefore did not pass.

The spending package has little chance of passing the Senate, but President Trump has already signed a short-term budget measure to keep the government open at current funding levels through December 8, giving Congress more time to come up with a deal for the rest of FY 2018. Read COSSA’s full coverage of the FY 2018 spending debate here.

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Posted in Issue 18 (September 19), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

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