The U.S. Senate just voted to end debate on the Bipartisan Budget Act and move the bill to an up-or-down vote. Twelve Republicans and all fifty-five Senate Democrats voted to end debate on the bill indicating it should pass rather easily during the final vote tomorrow. The BBA was worked out by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and passed the U.S. House last week.
After final passage, the budget agreement will set federal spending for fiscal 2014 and 2015 at $1.1012 trillion. But this agreement sets overall spending levels. Next, appropriators in the Senate and House will begin crafting legislation to set spending for each federal agency for the rest of FY14. The deadline to come to an agreement on appropriations is Jan. 15, otherwise the government will shut down again.
What this deal means for the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation is unclear. The budget agreement is an important first step on the path toward certainty and predictability in federal science funding. However, the level of that funding is not yet known. Will there be flat or increased funding for these agencies in FY14? Will any increase offset FY13 sequestration? Will the funding increase be greater than the level of inflation, thereby increasing the purchasing power of federal agencies?
Follow the ASBMB Policy Blotter to stay up to date on these pressing questions and other science funding issues!
UPDATE: The Senate finally passed the budget agreement Wednesday afternoon with bipartisan support.