FY 21 Budget and Future Funding for COVID

April 15, 2020

Last Friday, House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) shared preliminary subcommittee spending allocations, referred to as 302(b)s, giving subcommittees the green light to move forward with their budgets. FABBS signed letters in support of robust 302(b) allocations for subcommittees with jurisdiction over the National Science FoundationNational Institutes of Health and Institute of Education Sciences.

Subcommittee leaders are expected to draft bills for fiscal year 2021 aligned with these top line numbers that adhere to the budget caps established in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019, which provided a minimal 0.5 percent increase in discretionary spending between FY 2020 to FY 2021. A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Chairwoman Lowey (D-NY) and Labor-HHS Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK) have signaled their intention to exempt programs “that relate to the coronavirus response” from the FY 2021 budget caps. House leadership is holding on to hope that the House will pass bills on the floor this summer, if necessary, on party-line votes. At the moment, Congress plans to return to Washington, DC on May 4th. Given the ongoing concerns about the pandemic, some committees are considering releasing bills online rather than at in-person mark-ups.

Over on the Senate side, the FY 2021 appropriations path forward is less clear. Advancing appropriations bills would require 60 votes and the GOP control falls short with 53 seats. Furthermore, Senate Leadership is busy disagreeing about the size and recipients of the next coronavirus aid package. Initially, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had suggested an additional $250 billion for small businesses while Minority Leader Schumer has proposed $500 billion extending benefits to states, hospital and low-income families.

In anticipation of additional stimulus packages, the House Science Committee reached out to the science advocacy community to ask for input on how to best support the scientific enterprise. FABBS comments listed examples of near-term impacts of the virus on researchers, graduate students, the STEM pipeline, and scientific societies and offered examples of how NSF could invest in the scientific enterprise. FABBS comments also identified opportunities for NSF to invest in additional R and D activities and encouraged increased support for underrepresented minorities in STEM. Of interest on this topic, the Government Accountability Office released a report on the Effects of COVID-19 on the Federal Research and Development Enterprise