Agencies avoid major hit in 2018 draft House appropriations bill

 

This week, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee released three draft appropriations bills for fiscal year 2018 for a variety of agencies, including those related to science.  The drafts include reductions in discretionary funds over 2017 levels.

While the committee recommends funding most of the National Science Foundation’s programs at fiscal 2017 levels, rejecting proposed cuts by the Trump administration, it does, however, propose reducing appropriations for the foundation’s nonresearch activities.  Additionally, the National Institutes of Health would see an increase of $1.1 billion over fiscal 2017, and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science would be flat funded at FY17 levels.

Highlights from the draft bills are below.

National Institutes of Health – $35.7 billion in appropriations

The bill provides the following increases to existing research programs at the NIH:

  • $400 million for Alzheimer’s disease research
  • $76 million for the BRAIN initiative
  • $80 million for the All of Us Research Initiative, formerly the Precision Medicine Initiative
  • $300 million for the Cancer Moonshot
  • $8 million for regenerative medicine research
  • $12.6 million for the Gabriella Miller “Kids First” pediatric cancer research initiative
  • $10 million for Clinical and Translational Sciences Awards
  • $40 million for Institutional Development Awards
  • $30 million for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

The John E. Fogarty International Center, which was slated for elimination in President Donald Trump’s budget proposal would receive, under the House appropriations draft, an increase of $1.2 million over FY17.

Trump and members of Congress have brought up concerns about indirect costs, questioning the role that the federal government, and by association the taxpayer, has in funding indirect costs. The House bill draft, however, explicitly directs the NIH to continue to support the reimbursement of grantee facility and administration costs, eliminating the proposed indirect cost caps put forth by the Trump administration. The bill also, prohibits any research funds provided through the appropriations to be used to support research on human fetal tissue if the tissue was obtained through induced abortions.

National Science Foundation – $7.3 billion in appropriations

The bill provides funding for the NSF at the following levels:

  • $6.03 billion for research and related activities
  • $880 million for education and human resources programs

While providing flat funding for NSF’s major research programs, the respective appropriations bill draft emphasizes the policies put forth in the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act.  The bill would direct NSF’s “broader impacts” review criteria to clearly identify and demonstrate how a proposed project does the following:

  • increase the economic competitiveness of the United States,
  • advance the health and welfare of the American public,
  • support national defense,
  • enhance partnerships between academia and industry,
  • develop a globally competitive STEM workforce,
  • and improve undergraduate STEM education with increased diversity from women and individuals from underrepresented groups

In addition, the appropriations committee directs the NSF to address the recommendations from the U.S. Government Accountability Office preliminary report on trends in indirect costs and provide a report within 120 days of the passing of the appropriation bill on NSF’s progress in implementing GAO’s recommendations.

Department of Energy Office of Science – $5.3 billion in appropriations

The proposed bill will flat fund DOE’s Office of Science at FY17 levels.

The NSF, NIH and DOE’s science office all faced heavy cuts under Trump’s proposed budget for FY18.  The ASBMB rejected these proposed cuts as they would severely harm the nation’s role as a global leader in research and innovation.

It’s encouraging to see that the House has put forth appropriations that reject Trump’s budget proposal and, in the case of NIH, provides increased funding.

As these bills traverse the legislative process, we will continue to monitor their progress and provide updates on any developments.

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