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House Committee Approves FY 2020 Spending for NIH, CDC, BLS, AHRQ, ED

On May 8, the House Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year (FY) 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Bill; the Labor-HHS Subcommittee advanced the bill on April 30. This bill contains annual funding proposals for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Education (ED), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), among other federal departments and agencies. In a departure from what has become regular practice, the Labor-HHS bill was one of the first out the gate this year; the often-contentious bill is typically considered later in the appropriations process once more bipartisan bills have been advanced.

At a glance…

  • The House bill includes a total of $41.084 billion for NIH in FY 2020, a $2 billion or 5 percent increase over the FY 2019 level.
  • The bill includes $8.2 billion for the CDC, a $920.6 million increase above the FY 2019 enacted level and $1.7 billion above the Administration’s request for FY 2020.
  • The House bill would provide $358.2 million for AHRQ in FY 2020, a 6 percent or $20.2 million increase compared to FY 2019.
  • The bill would provide BLS with $675.8 million, an increase of $60.8 million from FY 2019.
  • Within the Department of Education, the bill would provide $650 million to the IES, which would be a 5.6 percent increase compared to its FY 2019 enacted level and 24.6 percent above the FY 2020 funding request from the Administration.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the House Appropriations Committee’s proposals for the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Department of Education.

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 14), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

House Science Committee Holds Hearing on NSF Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Request

On May 8, the Research and Technology Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing to discuss the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2020. Witnesses included NSF Director Dr. France Córdova and National Science Board Chair Dr. Diane Souvaine.

Research and Technology Subcommittee Chairwoman Haley Stevens (D-MI) presided over the hearing and used her opening statement to highlight the accomplishments of NSF and its important role as the only federal agency that supports basic research across all disciplines of science. She also drew attention to the fact that NSF serves as the primary source of federal research funds for some disciplines, including social science. Stevens further expressed appreciation for NSF’s commitment to the Ten Big Ideas Initiative but noted concern about the balance between supporting the Big Ideas and NSF’s core research portfolio.

Drs. Córdova and Souvaine highlighted the Ten Big Ideas and the importance of convergent research in their testimony. Additional topics discussed by members of the subcommittee and NSF leadership included social and behavioral dimensions of artificial intelligence research, preventing sexual harassment in science, and effective partnerships with the private sector.

Unlike in NSF budget hearings of the past few years, Republicans and Democrats joined together to applaud NSF’s support of basic research and to raise concern about the Administration’s proposal to decrease the NSF’s budget by nearly a billion dollars. The full hearing can be viewed on the Committee’s website.

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 14), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Congress Returns; Subcommittees Begin Marking Up Spending Legislation

After a two-week spring recess, Congress is back in session and is moving ahead on fiscal year (FY) 2020 spending. As COSSA has reported, many agency leaders have already testified in front of appropriations subcommittees, with more expected in the coming weeks. Additionally, agency leaders important to the social and behavioral science enterprise, including leaders from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are expected to testify in front of committees with authorization jurisdiction over their agencies in the next month.

Appropriations subcommittees are also moving quickly on drafting spending bills, with the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education bill scheduled to be considered in subcommittee on April 30. This bill, the largest of the non-defense appropriations bills, is responsible for funding the NIH, Department of Education, Bureau of Labor Statistics, among many other agencies. Less controversial bills, including those that fund the Legislative Branch and the Department of Veterans Affairs will be marked up soon after.

Although Congress is moving swiftly on FY 2020 funding, leaders have yet to reach a compromise on raising the discretionary spending caps put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011. These spending caps must be raised before FY 2020 spending can be finalized.

COSSA has issued an action alert urging members to write to their Members of Congress to tell them to prioritize a budget deal that gives fair treatment to vital non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs—including science and research agencies—which have disproportionately borne the brunt of federal spending cuts over the past several years.

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Posted in Issue 9 (April 30), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Talks Continue as Congress Attempts to Raise Budget Caps

As previously reported, fiscal year (FY) 2020 discretionary spending is subject to austere caps that were put in place in 2011 as part of a larger effort to significantly reduce the size of the federal budget over 10 years. The Budget Control Act of 2011, or BCA, put in place caps on discretionary spending for both nondefense and defense spending for the period of 2013 through 2021. COSSA joined a letter with over 800 organizational signatures urging Congress to raise these spending caps.

Congressional leaders are now considering several solutions to raise the discretionary spending caps and are currently taking part in high-level negotiations. Proposals include a possible comprehensive multi-year budget resolution, a less-restrictive “deeming resolution,” or legislation that would undo the budget cap requirements altogether. This most notable legislation, H.R. 2021, the Investing for the People Act of 2019, was introduced by Representative John Yarmuth (D-KY), Chair of the House Budget Committee, and would increase discretionary spending limits for the next two fiscal years. COSSA has also joined NDD United to support the passage of H.R. 2021.

COSSA has also released an Action Alert for COSSA Members to communicate directly with their Members of Congress on the importance of raising the caps on non-defense discretionary spending.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 16), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Congress Holds Hearings on FY 2020 NIH Budget

On April 2, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) hosted leadership from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to testify on the agency’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget request on April 2. Present were NIH Director Francis Collins, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Director Diana Bianchi, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony Fauci, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Director Gary Gibbons, National Cancer Institute (NCI) Deputy Director Doug Lowy, and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow. Members from both parties praised NIH for its accomplishments, solidifying its position as a bipartisan priority.

Full Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY), Subcommittee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK), and other members of the subcommittee expressed concern with the $4.9 billion cut recommended in the President’s FY 2020 budget request, especially in contrast to the $2 billion increase NIH received from Congress in FY 2019. Committee members questioned the witnesses on the health trends associated with e-cigarettes and vaping, Schedule 1 substance research, the growing measles epidemic, health disparities among women and minorities, and NIH’s testing of medical treatments on animals. A written statement from Collins, along with a recording of the hearing can be found on the committee’s website.

The following week on April 11, the Senate Appropriations LHHS Subcommittee held its budget hearing with NIH leaders, including Drs. Collins, Fauci, Lowy, and Volkow, as well as National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Director Griffin Rodgers, National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) Director Jon Lorsch, and National Institute on Aging (NIA) Director Richard Hodes. As in the House, NIH received bipartisan praise from Subcommittee members. Several senators, including Full Committee Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL), Subcommittee Chair Roy Blunt (R-MO), Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) expressed concern with the cut in the President’s 2020 budget. Committee members questioned the witnesses on NIH activities relating to foreign government espionage and theft of research, preventing sexual harassment in research settings, NIH’s relationship with private research entities, developing young scientists, the opioid epidemic, and the growing measles epidemic. Written statements from Blunt and Collins, along with a recording of the hearing can be found on the committee’s website.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 16), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Release of President’s Budget Puts Pressure on Congress to Raise Caps; COSSA Urges Advocates to Take Action

The release of the President’s budget request signals the official kick-off of the annual appropriations process in Congress. However, before Congress can fully dive into the FY 2020 bills, lawmakers must address a larger threat facing federal funding for next year. As COSSA has been reporting, discretionary spending that is appropriated every year by Congress has been subject to austere caps that were put in place in 2011 as part of a larger effort to significantly reduce the size of the federal budget over 10 years. The Budget Control Act of 2011, or BCA, put in place caps on discretionary spending for both nondefense and defense spending for the period of 2013 through 2021.

Thankfully, since 2013, Congress has been able to find bipartisan ways to amend the BCA and provide relief to the caps, allowing federal R&D agencies (as well as other parts of the federal budget) to achieve funding increases above the caps each year. However, the latest relief measures only raised the caps for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, meaning that unless Congress acts to address the caps again for FY 2020, they will take effect once again, resulting in a cut of $54 billion (9 percent) from nondefense discretionary (NDD) spending (which includes most research accounts), and $71 billion (11 percent) from defense discretionary accounts. In future years, under the President’s proposal, NDD funding would be reduced by an additional 2 percent each year through 2029, while shifting funding to “resource national defense requirements.” Interestingly, the President’s request itself violates the BCA by proposing to bust the defense discretionary caps by $165 billion (using the controversial Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account to further pad defense budgets). Therefore, regardless of where you stand, a deal will need to be struck in some form in the coming months if either side—defense or nondefense—are to see desired increases.

Lawmakers have already started talks and will be working for the next several months to attempt to strike a deal to prevent these cuts from taking effect in FY 2020. Of course, given the hyper-partisan and contentious nature of today’s Washington, a bipartisan deal is not guaranteed. You can expect to see the funding debate heat up in the coming weeks and perhaps also stretch into the fall or beyond.

COSSA has issued an action alert urging members to write to their Members of Congress to tell them to prioritize a budget deal that gives fair treatment to vital non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs—including science and research agencies—which have disproportionately borne the brunt of federal spending cuts over the past several years.

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Posted in Issue 7 (April 2), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Congressional Appropriators Get to Work; NSF Director Testifies

Following the release of the Administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget request, Congressional leaders have gotten to work on spending bills for the coming fiscal year. As COSSA has previously reported, Congress must first address the limits to discretionary spending (“raise the caps”) before they can complete the FY 2020 appropriations process. Congress has until the end of September to finalize all government spending. COSSA has signed onto a letter as part of the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) to encourage Congress to raise the caps on discretionary spending.

While Congress has yet to reach a broader budget deal to address the caps on discretionary spending, Appropriations Subcommittees have started reviewing federal agencies’ budget requests as the first step in the appropriations process.

Last week, the House Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee (CJS) received testimony from France Córdova, the Director of the National Science Foundation, on the agency’s FY 2020 budget request. In her prepared statement, Director Córdova emphasized NSF’s Ten Big Ideas and the many contributions that NSF-funded research has made to the everyday lives of Americans – from iPhone and search engine technology to Doppler radar and American Sign Language adoption.  Members of the subcommittee expressed concern about the proposed twelve percent decrease for the agency in FY 2020, and how the agency was going to balance the rest of their research portfolio while investing in the Ten Big Ideas. Members of the subcommittee also highlighted the importance of social science in relation to the priorities of the NSF, including artificial intelligence, and their own priorities, including program evaluation, STEM education, and economic opportunity. Other topics of discussion included NSF investment in scientific infrastructure and broadening participation in STEM. An archive of the hearing can be viewed on the House Appropriations Committee website.

Leaders from the National Institutes of Health and the Census Bureau are scheduled to testify this week. For more information on Appropriations hearings and bills follow the COSSA Washington Update.

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Posted in Issue 7 (April 2), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Trump Administration to Release FY 2020 Budget Request Next Week

The Trump Administration is planning to release its fiscal year (FY) 2020 Budget Request in batches over the next couple of weeks. Due to the 35-day partial government shutdown and delayed ending to the FY 2019 appropriations process (see previous coverage), the President’s budget, which is supposed to be delivered to Congress in early February, is not expected until mid-March. Reports indicate that preliminary details will be released the week of March 11 with full details available the week of March 18.

The research community is expecting another tough year for federal science agencies and programs, especially as the President has hinted at his plans to increase defense spending at the expense of non-defense discretionary spending, which includes federal research funding. As always, COSSA will prepare an in-depth analysis of the proposals for agencies and programs important to our community.

It is important to note that the President’s budget is just that – a budget. Congress is not waiting for the President’s request to be delivered to begin their work on the annual appropriations bills. Oversight hearings are already beginning, and generally, the President’s request is expected to have little bearing on Congress’s funding deliberations.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 5), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Compromise on FY 2019 Funding Reached, Averting Second Shutdown; Read COSSA’s Analysis of the Omnibus

After the longest partial-government shutdown in U.S. history, Congress came to a compromise on February 14 on funding the entire federal government for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2019, which began on October 1, 2018. The omnibus spending package contains 7 individual appropriations bills, including the Agriculture; Commerce, Justice, Science; Interior and Environment; Homeland Security; Financial Services and General Government; State and Foreign Operations; and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development appropriations bills. On February 15, President Trump signed the bill into law, closing a painful chapter and officially kicking off work on FY 2020 funding.

The final package includes necessary increases for many programs important to the social and behavioral sciences including the National Science Foundation and the Census Bureau.

The Trump Administration will soon release its budget request for FY 2020. While the budget will have very little bearing on the funding debates in Congress, it will provide valuable insight into the science policy and funding priorities of the Administration. At the end of the day, the Congress holds the power of the purse and decides the level of taxpayer support for research.

Read on for COSSA’s analysis of final FY 2019 funding for the National Science Foundation, Census Bureau, Economic Research Service, National Agricultural Statistics Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Bureau of Justice Statistics, and National Institute of Justice.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 19), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

COSSA Endorses Census Idea Act

On February 8, COSSA endorsed the Census Improving Data and Enhanced Accuracy (IDEA) Act (S. 358) as introduced by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI). The bill would prohibit the Department of Commerce from making any major change to the operational design of the decennial census that has not been “researched, studied, and tested” for at least three years. The Census Bureau routinely spends the years leading up to a decennial census carefully researching all proposed changes to its design and wording to ensure that they do not affect the quality of the responses received. This bill would formalize that longstanding practice and ensure that Census Bureau experts have the opportunity to fully evaluate the potential impacts of any major changes. The bill was crafted in response to the Trump Administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. COSSA released a statement in 2018 criticizing the inclusion of an untested citizenship question on the 2020 Census, outlining the potential impacts on the quality of Census data.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 19), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

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