Due to the U.S. House not passing the clean continuing resolution proposed by the Senate last night, the federal government has officially shutdown. The Senate is meeting this morning to discuss the latest version of the CR, however they have repeatedly stated that they will not pass any House bill with language that affects implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The Senate also rejected the House’s suggestion to hold a conference about the bill to achieve a compromise. The CR negotiations are at a stalemate over the ACA, and time will only tell if a CR can be agreed upon. Meanwhile, 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed, including many lab personnel at the National Institutes of Health.
While the government shutdown has preoccupied our attention over the last week, this is only one of many fiscal debates going on right now.
- It is important to remember that the funding bill being debated in Congress will expire on either Nov. 15 or Dec. 15. This means that Congress will have to reengage in this debate again in order to provide funding for the government for the rest of fiscal 2014.While ASBMB prefers the short-term CR to a government shutdown, the CR being debated locks in federal funding at post sequestration levels. Budget cuts and sequestration have had detrimental effects on the scientific enterprise, and we have stated that sequestration should be overturned and that the federal government should return to a strategy of robust, sustained investment in scientific research.
- Another issue to be dealt with is sequestration over the long-term. Sequestration is set to cut the budgets of all federal science funding agencies in FY14 and beyond. These across-the-board budget cuts took effect last March for FY13 and cut billions of dollars to scientific research. Continuing sequestration for another fiscal year or more will cut even more from the NIH, NSF and other agencies, hurting scientists that much more.
- The U.S. will breach the debt ceiling sometime in mid-October. Should Congress fail to raise the ceiling, many experts predict near calamity for global financial markets, which would have severe negative effects on the American economy. This would almost certainly squeeze funding for all government operations, including science funding.
Stay tuned to the Policy Blotter for more information as it comes to light.