The end of 2013 brought a ray of hope to a dismal year for federal support of research. In March, sequestration cut nearly 3 percent of the National Science Foundation’s budget and over 5 percent from the budgets of other science funding agencies including the National Institutes of Health. However, in mid December, a bipartisan deal was reached on federal spending for the next two fiscal years.
The December budget deal did not specify levels of spending for the NIH, NSF or other science funding agencies, but it gave appropriators an overall level of spending within which to do their work. This important step increases the likelihood that a compromise between the Democratic-led Senate and the Republican-led House will be reached regarding the appropriations of individual federal agencies for fiscal 2014. However, the appropriators must do their work quickly. The continuing resolution currently funding the government expires on Jan. 15, and without a new funding plan, the government will again shutdown.
The December bipartisan budget agreement mandates a higher level of spending in FY14 than in FY13. However, the increase in spending is not enough to entirely offset the cuts caused by sequestration. Thus, while increases to the NIH and NSF budgets are to be expected, the amount of new money flowing to the agencies will do very little to change the difficult funding environment.
Once appropriations for FY14 are in place, the work on FY15 appropriations will immediately begin. As set in the bipartisan budget agreement, the overall federal spending level for FY15 will be nearly identical to the spending levels for FY14. While senators and representatives may jockey for increases to individual agencies, it is highly unlikely any agency will see a significant change in funding levels between FY14 and FY15. Nevertheless, the ASBMB will continue to make sure that Congress hears about the impressive discoveries coming out of U.S. labs, and the difficulties scientists are having trying to find funding to make these discoveries.
Important dates for funding in 2014:
- Jan. 15 – Continuing resolution expires. If FY14 appropriations are not in place, the government will shut down.
- Early spring – President Obama releases his FY15 budget request.
- Sep. 30 – Deadline for FY15 appropriations.
See what else we’re watching in 2014: