The budget deal announced last night by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., is already drawing praise and skepticism. The deal raises federal spending from the fiscal 2013 level of $986 billion to about $1.012 trillion for FY14 and FY15. The increased spending is funded by raising fees and requiring federal workers to contribute more money to their pensions. Overall, the Ryan-Murray agreement will amount to roughly $23 billion in deficit reduction.
The ASBMB released a statement last night applauding the work of the budget committee conference while recognizing that this is only the first step on a path to predictability and certainty in federal funding for scientific research. Also supporting the deal is NDD United, the leading voice advocating on behalf of agencies included in the nondefense discretionary spending portion of the federal budget, such as the National Institutes of Health, the National Science foundation and others. The agreement also has the support of President Obama.
However, many groups are lining up in opposition to the budget agreement. Several conservative organizations signaled opposition to the agreement even before the details were released. Their concern is that the deal does little to constrain federal spending. In addition, several prominent Republicans have stated their opposition to the budget agreement. On the other side, some Democrats take issue with the proposed cuts to federal pension programs that would partially fund the Ryan-Murray deal. Despite this opposition, the deal is expected to receive the support of a majority of Democrats and enough Republicans to pass both houses of Congress.
Expect this issue to move rather quickly. The U.S. House has rushed the Ryan-Murray plan into the voting queue with action expected possibly later today with a vote in the full House as early as tomorrow. The rush is due to the fact that the U.S. House is scheduled to adjourn on Friday until Jan. 7. The U.S. Senate is in session until the end of next week and has until then to take action on the Ryan-Murray agreement.
Follow the ASBMB Policy Blotter as we keep up with this and other science funding stories.
UPDATE: Roll Call is reporting that many Republican members of the U.S. House will end up supporting the Ryan-Murray agreement. Most Democrats are also expected to support the deal. Thus, this deal will almost certainly pass both houses of Congress, and will serve as a framework for appropriation going forward.