Recapping an eventful week in Washington: It all started with a flurry of activity on Monday as the U.S. House and Senate passed several bills that would fund the government and avert a shutdown. However, House Republicans consistently added language to these bills that would alter the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which Senate Democrats consistently rejected. No agreement was reached in time and the government shut down. On Tuesday, the plans for shutting down federal agencies, including National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, were released. On Thursday, the House passed legislation that would have opened the NIH and locked in sequestration levels of funding, but the legislation, which was opposed by ASBMB, failed in the Senate.
So what happens now? Some in Washington expect the government shutdown to be resolved when Congress and President Obama come to an agreement about the debt ceiling. However, the deadline to raise the debt ceiling is sometime in the middle of October, meaning that the government will almost certainly be closed for two to three weeks.
So what about science and scientists? Scientists working at the NIH are furloughed and not able to do lab work. This has caused serious damage to experiments that were in progress and may set back years of work on model organisms.
For extramural scientists, the biggest issue will be knowing when to submit a grant application and when it will be reviewed. The next deadline for new R01 and U01 submissions is Oct. 5, K series career development applications are due Oct. 12 and several other R series grants are due Oct. 16. The NIH has said explicitly that they encourage grant applicants to NOT submit grant applications while the government is shut down, and they will adjust application due dates once the government reopens. This holds true for the NSF as well.
Keep checking in at the Policy Blotter for all of the latest developments on the government shutdown and what it means for scientists.