Senate Releases Budget for FY 2021, CR Expires on December 11

November 12, 2020

With the election behind us, a lame duck Congress will need to return to Washington to finish up the budget for fiscal year (FY) 2021 that started on October 1. The government has been operating under a continuing resolution (CR) that expires on December 11, 2020. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had told reporters Wednesday that he wants a deal on the next coronavirus relief bill by the end of the year. However, the House and Senate are still very far apart and lack a clear path forward.  

On Tuesday, November 10, the Senate Appropriations Committee released all 12 appropriations bills, after the House had passed 10 of the 12 budget bills over the summer. Below is a table that captures how the Senate numbers compare to those in the House bill.

FY 2020
President Budget Proposal (PBP)Percent difference FY 2020 and PBPHouse FY 21House increase over FY 20Senate FY 21Senate increase over FY 20
Institute for Education Sciences $623.50 M$565.40 M-9.3%$630.50 M1.1%$635.50 M1.9%
National Institutes of Health $41.69 B$39.13 B-6.1%42.22* B1.3%$43.69 B4.8%
National Science Foundation$8.278 B$7.741 B-6.5%$8.548 B3.3%$8.478 B2.4%
* This figure does not include House recommendation for $5B for emergency COVID19 spending across all Institutes

The National Science Foundation is in the Subcommittee bill for Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Explanatory Statement.

The Senate Committee recommends $6.907 billion for Research and Related Activities (R and RA), which is an increase of $170 million above the FY 20 enacted level.  This is the account that funds the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate. The Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate is separate from the R and RA. The Senate recommended $940.0 million for EHR, a $23.5 million increase over the FY 20 enacted amount and $32.6 million above the President’s budget request.

Appropriations bills include guidance in the reports that accompany the budget. Of possible interest to FABBS members, the CJS report mentions public access:

Open Access to Federal Research.—OSTP has worked since the enactment of Public Law 111–358 to establish procedures and define policies across the government for public access to federal research, a process that has taken a number of years to implement. The Committee has monitored the progress over this time and directs OSTP to continue providing annual reports to the Committee in order to keep Congress apprised of the remaining progress needed to maintain the current structures in place that make federally funded research accessible to the public as expeditiously as possible.”

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Institute of Education Sciences (IES) are both included in the Senate Appropriations bill for Labor, Health and Human Services and Education and Labor-HHS explanatory statement (Report).

The Senate Labor-HHS-ED bill provides a topline number of $44 billion, an increase of $2 billion over the FY20 enacted level and about $5.3 billion above the administration’s budget request. Over the past 6 years, the Committee has provided an increase of $13.6 billion, or 45 percent.

IES receives $635.5 million – a $12 million increase over FY 2020 ($623.5 million), and $5 million higher than the number in the House bill ($630.5 million). The $12 million increase goes entirely to the National Assessment of the Educational Progress (NAEP).

The Senate LHHS bill contain several many items related to NIH of interest to FABBS members:

Child Development.—The Committee believes there is insufficient focus in NICHD’s 2020 Strategic Plan on behavioral health, cognition, development of young children, language, learning differences, and school readiness. NICHD has had a long history of funding critical and meritorious work in these areas. The Committee encourages NICHD to consider otherwise qualified grants in these areas on the same basis as any other areas of focus as it works to implement its strategic plan.

Impact of Technology and Digital Media on Children and Teens.—The Committee remains concerned about the effects of technology use and media consumption on infants, children, and adolescents and appreciates NIH’s continued engagement on these important topics. The Committee encourages NIH to prioritize re- search into the cognitive, physical, and socio-emotional repercussions of young people’s use of technologies including mobile devices, computers, and virtual reality tools, as well as their consumption of social-media content, video games, and television programming.

Post-Research Adoption of Animals in Research.—The Committee commends NIH and other agencies for instituting policies and procedures to facilitate the placement of animals no longer needed for research. However, the Committee is concerned about creating additional regulatory burden and prescriptive requirements for extramural research facilities across the country. While the Committee encourages NIH to develop non-binding guidelines, such as the Research Dogs and Cats Adoption Policy of the American Veterinary Medical Association for extramural research facilities, the Committee remains concerned about the potential financial impact of an unfunded mandate imposed on the facilities with mandatory ‘‘one size fits all’’ adoption policies. The Committee requests that NIH provide a written update on these items in the fiscal year 2022 CJ.

Primate Research.—The Committee recognizes the importance of nonhuman primates in biomedical research in America for developing vaccines and treatments for public health threats. The Committee remains concerned about efforts to mandate the reduction of nonhuman primate models in both intramural and extramural research while Congress has simultaneously mandated research that requires these models. Further, the Committee has concerns about the long-term availability and transportation issues regarding nonhuman primates that is putting American biomedical research in jeopardy. Accordingly, the Committee directs that NIH provide a written update on the critical necessity of nonhuman primates to biomedical research, specific areas of research in which nonhuman primates are used, and how NIH plans to address future availability and transportation of this critical model in the fiscal year 2022 CJ.

Psycho-social Distress Complications.—The Committee encourages NCI to include measurements of psycho-social distress in cancer research as an integral piece of clinical treatment and follow up care. With the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act (Public Law 114–255) in 2016 and the Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act (Public Law 115–52) in 2017, Congress heightened the importance of collecting patient experience data that not only includes the physical impacts of a condition, therapy, or clinical investigation/trial, but also the psycho-social impacts. The Committee requests an update on NCI’s research activities in the area of psycho-social distress in the fiscal year 2022.