Awaiting word on appropriations

Last year ended with a bipartisan, bicameral Congressional deal on spending levels for the federal government in fiscal 2014 and 2015. And now Congress is again working against a deadline to push through a new appropriations bill. Funding for the federal government expires Wednesday, and without a spending bill, the government will shut down. However, appropriators may propose a short, three-day continuing resolution to fund the government until Saturday. This would give Congress the time necessary to introduce, debate and vote on the FY14 appropriations bill.

What is holding up this bill from moving forward, aside from partisan rancor, is the monumental task given to the U.S. House and Senate appropriators. The committees in either house typically have weeks to months to craft spending legislation. However, this time, appropriators have been tasked with drafting 12 separate bills, negotiating through any disagreements and producing a final piece of legislation that could pass both houses, and all with only five weeks that spanned the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. That said, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ken., the chairs of the appropriations committees in their respective chambers, appear to be on a path to their FY14 spending plan, or omnibus bill, later today.

Most observers believe that funding for science agencies will improve in the FY14 omnibus. Rumors are that the National Institutes of Health will recover much of what was lost due to sequestration and the National Science Foundation may see an increase in its budget. This is still speculation, and no one will know for sure until the bill is released.

Follow the Policy Blotter for updates on FY14 spending levels and other science policy issues or get involved yourself!

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