The omnibus funding bill has officially arrived. The bill, worth $1.1 trillion, lays out spending for governmental programs, including research funding agencies. The increase in the overall budget avoids additional cuts from sequestration for fiscal 2014 and 2015. However, the bill does not fully restore all of the cuts from FY13. Furthermore, the new budget covers relief from cuts to both defense and nondefense. Within nondefense discretionary spending are multiple agencies, as seen in the NDD United report, that are seeking relief, one of which is the National Institutes of Health.
Funding for the NIH will be partially restored to $29.9 billion. While this is roughly $1 billion more than FY13, it is less than the $30.6 billion that would have been budgeted for the NIH in FY13 had sequestration not taken place. Thus, the budget is $700 million less than hoped for by scientists. This budget marks the lowest amount since 2008 ($29.6 billion), disregarding the FY13 budget, and is actually even lower if inflation is taken into account. The National Science Foundation’s budget will be $7.2 billion, which is a slight increase over FY13 appropriations with sequestration, which was a little less than $6.9 billion. It is also an increase over the FY12 budget, which was approximately $7 billion. The slight increase over FY13 for the NIH and the NSF means more grants will likely be funded in FY14 and the ASBMB supports the fact that Congress is heading in the right direction for increased funding.
With 640 fewer grants funded at the NIH due to sequestration in 2013, many scientists faced hard times and this even resulted in labs shutting down. Hopefully, the slight increase in the budget will mean more individual grants being awarded and funding being distributed to those researchers who could not receive their money due to the lack of an appropriations bill. To continue on this wave of increased funding, scientists need to communicate with their Congressional members about the importance of basic research. There are many ways to get involved and now is the time!
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