Continuing Resolution Expected to Keep Government Open Until November 21 and Senate Appropriations Activity

September 25, 2019

At press time, the Senate was poised to pass a continuing resolution (CR) (H.R. 4378) to keep the government open and avoid a government shutdown. The House of Representatives voted (301-123) last week to pass the CR  and the President is expected to sign it.

While certainly critical to keep the government open, the CR maintains current spending levels and conditions until November 21. These levels are a five percent cut from the budget deal (H.R. 3877) signed into law in early August.  The short-term nature of the CR has a negative impact on research, limiting agencies’ ability to fund new initiatives and often having to delay existing obligations as well as creating uncertainty. 

In theory, this extra time will enable the House and Senate to negotiate and pass all 12 appropriations bills. All they need to do is resolve a few minor details like funding for border wall construction, detention beds, immigration agents, Census funding and women’s health care. In other words, it is too soon to rule out a second CR or a shutdown. FABBS is urging members of both chambers to move quickly to resolve differences and pass a full-year budget at agreed upon levels.

The Senate Appropriation Subcommittee released the long-awaited draft Labor-HHS funding bill and the corresponding report language. Typically, report language isn’t released until after the committee markup, which was abruptly and indefinitely postponed, leading advocates to wonder if there will not be a Senate markup of the bill at all. The bill includes a $3.0 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), bringing the budget to $42.1 billion, a 7.7 percent increase. The BRAIN Initiative is also allocated $500 million, an increase of $71 million over the current year level for phase two. The Institute of Education Sciences was flat-funded at $615.5 million.

FABBS members will be interested to know that Senate appropriators included report language regarding clinical trials policy, specifically as it relates to basic science experiments involving human subjects (BESH). The Committee encouraged NIH to continue to work with the basic research community and report to the Committee before moving forward with any new proposals regarding clinical trials registration for BESH. This language sends a strong message to NIH leadership.

The Commerce Justice Science (CJS) Appropriations subcommittee convened the morning of September 24 to mark up the FY2020 Appropriations Bill. The bill includes $8.3 billion for the National Science Foundation, an increase of $242 million above the FY2019 enacted level. The bill will be considered by the full Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday, September 26. 

  FY 2018    FY 2019    Pres. Budget
    House FY2020
Passed full chamber
    Senate FY 2020
NIH $37.2 billion $39.1 billion $34.4 billion $41.0 billion $41.1 billion $42.1 billion
NSF $7.8 billion $8.1 billion $7.1 billion $9.0 billion $8.6 billion $8.3 billion
IES $613.5 million $615.5 million $521.6 million $670.0 million $650.0 million $615.5 million