Today, the Trump administration released the president’s budget request for fiscal 2019. As could be expected, the administration proposed heavy cuts to agencies that support the research enterprise. Under the president’s proposal, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation’s research and related activities accounts would have seen reductions to $24 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively.
The president’s budget, however, was drafted prior to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 being signed into law last week. Consequently, his proposed budget failed to take into account a $131 billion increase to nondefense discretionary spending of over the next two years. To address this oversight, the administration released an addendum to its FY 2019 budget.
While this document walks back Trump’s proposed cuts to the NIH and NSF by suggesting the addition of $9.2 billion and $2.2 billion, respectively, to the funding agencies, it stops short of matching the BBA’s increased nondefense funding levels. Per the addendum, “The administration does not believe these nondefense spending levels comport with its vision for the proper role and size of the Federal Government.”
The cuts originally proposed by the president are not surprising, nor are they likely to be taken seriously by Congress. During appropriations talks in the spring of 2017, the U.S. Senate proposed increasing the NIH’s budget by $2 billion, bringing the agency’s account to $36 billion for FY18. In contrast, the administration proposed reducing funding at the NIH to $26.9 billion. While Trump’s budget helps the community obtain a better understanding of the administration’s priorities, it is up to Congress to write appropriation bills that set the funding for the federal government.
The government is currently operating under a continuing resolution that is set to expire on March 23. We are now looking to see what, if any, funding bills will be created to finish out the current fiscal year and get an indication of the appropriation language for FY19.
Read the ASBMB’s statement on the FY19 budget proposal here.