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Congress Shifts Budget Discussions into High Gear

February 27, 2020

This week, Congress continues to hold hearings on the President’s budget request. The House Appropriations subcommittees set deadlines for Members to submit their budget requests and scheduled budget mark-ups.

A budget deal made in July 2019 imposed tight caps on both defense and non-defense spending. With caps already in place, House offices will draft budgets that adhere to established levels. By way of reminder, last year, in the absence of topline numbers, the House introduced budgets independent of a budget agreement.

FABBS is actively advocating for strong funding for science budgets in FY 2021, visiting with Congressional offices and drafting letters and testimony in support of federal agencies funding the behavioral and brain sciences. In addition to advocating for strong funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), as reported in the last newsletter, FABBS participates in coalitions and promotes several additional programs:

  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) – The fiscal year 2021 President’s Budget proposes consolidating AHRQ into the NIH as the National Institute for Research on Safety and Quality (NIRSQ). The proposal recommends cutting funding from $338 million enacted in FY 2020 to $257 million in FY2021. As a member of the Friends of AHRQ, FABBS is advocating for $471 million in FY 2021. This level is equal to the FY2010 level and adjusted for inflation.   
  • Department of Defense (DoD) – While DoD was one of the few federal agencies receiving an increase to the topline, FABBS is concerned about the cuts to the Basic Research Office (cut 11 percent from FY2020 enacted level) and proposed termination of the Minerva Research Initiative (MRI) in the administration’s FY 2021 budget. MRI supports basic social science and multidisciplinary research aimed at improving national security and international stability.  As in past years, the administration’s FY 2021 budget proposes to cancel 23 ongoing Minerva projects being conducted by more than 30 universities. MRI does not have direct Congressional appropriation, making it more vulnerable than other programs. DoD has the authority to terminate MRI unless Congress acts to add MRI to the FY 2021 appropriations bill. As a member of Coalition for National Security Research, FABBS will be working to protect MRI.
  • National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is the research and evaluation agency within the Department of Justice (DOJ). The President’s budget recommends $43.5 million for NIJ in FY2021, a $7.5 million, or 21 percent, increase over the final FY 2020 level. This increase would enable NIJ to expand its research portfolio in priorities such as reentry and policing strategies to reduce violent crime, officer safety, health, and wellness. The request directs that $3 million be dedicated to research on human trafficking and $1 million to research on countering mass violence, to include the role of online activity in mass violence events.

Please let us know (info@fabbs.org) if you compete for funding for behavioral and brain sciences from federal agencies not mentioned.

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