As the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies come to grips with sequestration, there is news that some agencies may get a reprieve. In April, the Federal Aviation Administration began furloughing air traffic controllers, causing significant flight delays. This public display of the effects of sequestration caused Congress to rapidly pass a bill that allowed the Secretary of Transportation to divert $250 million to the FAA to prevent further furloughs.
While President Obama approved of the FAA fix, he has stated that he has little appetite for similar fixes to other federal agencies. Nevertheless, members of both chambers and parties have already filed bills to restore funding to specific federal programs, including the NIH, Head Start and a variety of other programs. It is not clear which, if any, of these bills will pass both houses of Congress, much less be signed into law by Obama.
The ASBMB does not favor a piecemeal approach to fixing sequestration. Federal funding for science research comes from several federal agencies, and exempting one agency from sequestration would not help scientists funded by other agencies. The ASBMB would prefer overturning sequestration altogether. Stay tuned to the Policy Blotter for more updates on sequestration.