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ASBMB’s policy analyst, André Porter, provides an update on congressional appropriations in 2017.
After returning to work after its summer recess, Congress has four weeks to approve funding for the federal government in 2017. Sept. 30 marks the end of fiscal year 2016; therefore, Congress must approve a new FY17 budget or pass a short-term continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown. While a short-term CR would continue to provide vital funds to scientific agencies, without a new FY17 spending bill agencies budgets would remain flat at FY16 levels. With a long to-do list prior to the fall recess, Vice President Joe Biden has joined Democratic leadership in urging Republican members of Congress to do their job and take action on issues facing the American people.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers continue to battle over appropriations for Zika research. While a short-term CR is likely, GOP leadership must drop off-set language (defunding Planned Parenthood) to get Democrats to approve a bill providing $1.1 billion in emergency Zika funds. Despite crippling budget woes, in the past month Health and Human Services has made significant progress in the fight against Zika. However, Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease has stated that continued progress, including proposed Zika vaccine trials, would hault if additional funding is not secured. While Zika research appropriations continue to be at the center of political discourse, the handling of the Zika pandemic has left many wondering how public health in the U.S. actually works.
GOP drops hints in budget showdown (The Hill)
Our work protecting Americans from the Zika virus (Health and Human Services)
Zika vaccine trial will stop without funding (The Washington Examiner)
Political fights behind uneven U.S. Zika response (Scientific American)
Despite the 21st Century Cures Act passing last year, major companion legislation is still being held up in the Senate over where increased NIH funds would come from. Top senators were hopeful that bipartisan support to pass this legislation would be achieved prior to the fall election recess, however, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, (R-Mich.) is eyeing the lame-duck session in November as a target timeframe.
Senators eye September goal for cures bill (The Washington Examiner)