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.