On December 9, with only hours remaining before funding for the federal government expired, Congress passed and the President signed, a continuing resolution (CR) (H.R. 2028) extending Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 funding through April 28, 2017. The stopgap measure allows Congress to complete work on the FY 2017 spending bills in the 115th Congress, which will convene in January.
With FY 2017 having officially begun on October 1, the CR extends FY 2016 by about seven months. A major disadvantage of this long-term CR is not only the fact it holds federal agencies to a funding level slightly below (.19%) their FY 2016 levels, it also precludes the agencies from investing in new initiatives. A few agencies, such as the U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Housing and Urban Development, received language, known as a “funding anomaly,” to spend more on specific programs during the term of the CR. Otherwise, the CR means continued uncertainty for the agencies’ regarding their final FY 2017 funding levels and an expectation they will continue business as usual.
One positive facet of the measure is its inclusion of $872 million to support new initiatives included in the recently enacted legislation, the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016. This funding includes $352 million for the National Institutes of Health Innovation Account, which supports funding for four trans-NIH research initiatives ($10M for the BRAIN initiative; $300M for the Cancer Moonshot; $40M for the Precision Medicine Initiative, and $2M adult stem cell research) and $500 million for states to respond to the opioid abuse crisis.
FABBS had urged Congress to resolve the FY 2017 funding bills before adjourning. It will continue to encourage Congress and the new Administration to resolve FY 2017 before the fiscal year ends.