American Society of Hematology

Congress Continues Work on FY 2014 Spending Bills; Funding Outlook for NIH Remains Bleak

Published on: June 20, 2013

Congress Continues Work on FY 2014 Spending Bills; Funding Outlook for NIH Remains Bleak

Congressional Committees in the House and Senate continue efforts to make progress on the fiscal year (FY) 2014 spending bills despite increasing skepticism that any of the 12 annual spending bills will be enacted into law.


Although both the House and Senate adopted their individual budget resolutions for FY 2014 in early March, the respective resolutions which serve as blueprints for the more detailed annual appropriations process, are more than $90 billion apart in spending levels. The Senate budget resolution and the President’s FY2014 budget request include an overall spending level of $1.058 trillion and assume sequestration will be replaced. By contrast, the House-adopted budget resolution would limit base discretionary spending to $967 billion. This means the House Appropriations Committee will have significantly less money available to allocate among federal programs and agencies – including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – during the upcoming appropriations process, as compared to the Senate.


Using this framework, the House Appropriations Committee approved its allocations for the 12 FY 2014 appropriations bills on May 21. For the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Subcommittee, which funds the NIH, the committee provides $121.8 billion for FY 2014. This represents an 18.6 percent cut below the FY2013 post-sequestration level. Although individual program levels will not be determined until later, an 18.6 percent reduction would equal a loss of $5.4 billion for NIH in FY2014. While Democrats have characterized the allocations as “devastating,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) has repeatedly said the panel’s hands were tied by the sequester.


The Senate allocation numbers, which are expected to be announced on June 20, are likely to be better for research and health programs; however, this foreshadows the eventual difficulties in reconciling drastically different FY 2014 House and Senate appropriations bills. In fact, it is possible that the Senate subcommittee will propose an increase for NIH in FY 2014, while the House is certain to propose a cut to the agency. How the House and the Senate ultimately compromise on their respective proposals remains an uncertainty, making increasingly unlikely that the House and Senate will agree on regular FY 2014 spending bills for most federal agencies before the new fiscal year begins on October 1.


Take Action: Lawmakers need to understand that this is not the time to defund science; this is the time to invest in medical research. But, they will only respond if they hear it from their constituents. All ASH members are encouraged to visit the on-line ASH Advocacy Center today to send a message to your elected representatives about the impact that funding cuts will have on your research and the patients you treat.

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