House Appropriations Subcommittees Markup FY 2021 Budgets with Full Committee Action Expected Next Week

July 9, 2020

This week, subcommittees of the U.S. House of Representatives marked up budgets for federal agencies for fiscal year (FY) 2021, which will begin on October 1. Budget caps previously established for FY 2021 are only slightly higher than FY 2020 spending levels, limiting ability to increase funding across agencies. Several subcommittees used a mechanism within the annual appropriations process to include emergency appropriations aimed at increasing funding for research budgets, which would help address costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other subcommittees proposed more modest increases, presumably counting on separate relief legislation to offset costs associated with the pandemic. (See FABBS article on COVID relief.)

The Senate had planned to advance counterpart bills in June, before delaying action following disagreements surrounding additional funds to address the pandemic and police reform. They are on recess until July 20. There is wide speculation that Congress will need to pass a continuing resolution — funding at the FY 2020 levels to keep the government open — until sometime after the November Presidential election.

Priority agencies for FABBS in House subcommittee budgets:

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) — $47 billion, an increase of $5.5 billion above the FY 2020 enacted level of $41.5 billion and $8.6 billion above the President’s budget request. Of the total amount appropriated, $42 billion is in annual appropriations, an increase of $500 million above FY 2020, and $5 billion in emergency appropriations designated to increase capacity at research institutions. (More details below.)
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) — $8.55 billion, an increase of $270 million, a 3.1 percent increase above the FY 2020 enacted level of $8.28 billion and $807 million above the administration’s request of $7.74 billion. 
  • Institute of Education Sciences (IES) — $630 million for IES overall, an increase of $7 million / 1.1 percent over FY 2020 enacted level of $623 million and above the administration’s request of $565 million.

The House appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over NIH and IES approved its draft FY 2021 spending bill by a party line vote. The subcommittee did not consider any amendments, but Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK) indicated that he and other members of the minority plan to file amendments during the full committee markup scheduled for Monday, July 13 at 1:00 pm.  Under the draft spending bill, NIH would get a 13 percent raise for FY 2021, however only $500 million would build on the base budget for NIH. The lion’s share, $5 billion, is designated emergency spending to “increase capacity” at the research universities and institutions conducting NIH-funded research. At least half would be spread over NIH’s 27 institutes and centers, giving each of them an increase of at least 7 percent, in FY 2021.