Trump Signs ‘Stimnibus’ – FY21 Spending Bills and COVID Relief

January 6, 2021

On December 27, 2020, following threats to refuse, President Trump signed the spending package for fiscal year 2021. Congress had passed the legislation on December 21 by wide margins and bipartisan support. Prior to this, budget disagreements had required two short-term continuing resolutions, to extend government funding to avoid a government shut down.

The final 5,000 page package – the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (HR 113) – established spending levels for all federal agencies through September 30, 2021. Being referred to as the ‘stimnibus’ (omnibus + stimulus), the bill includes $1.4 trillion in government funding reflecting fairly modest increases to annual appropriations for research agencies, along with $900 billion dollars for COVID-19 research, vaccines, and economic relief. This is the first pandemic-response funding Congress has passed since last spring. The emergency spending for COVID relief includes $23 billion in general relief funding for higher education institutions but none directed toward addressing disruptions to research, as had been proposed in the Research Investment to Secure the Economy (RISE) Act.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) estimates that overall federal basic and applied research spending will rise by roughly 4%, or just under $4 billion, in FY 2021.

Division-by-Division Summary of Appropriations Provisions

National Institutes of Health (NIH) – $42.9 billion, a $1.25 billion increase over the comparable FY 2020 spending level and $4.563 above the President’s budget request.

  • National Institute of Mental Health increase of $10.7 million
  • BRAIN Initiative includes $560 million for the – a $60 million increase from FY20 funding.
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke increase of $16.8 million

National Science Foundation (NSF) – $8.487 billion, an increase of $208.4 million above the FY 2020 enacted level and $745.4 million above the President’s budget request.

  • NSF Research and Related Activities – $6.9 billion is provided, an increase of $172.6 million above FY 2020 and $696.7 million above the President’s budget request.
  • Education and Human Resources — $968 million is provided, an increase of $28 million above FY 2020 and $37 million above the President’s budget request.

Institute of Education Sciences (IES) – $642.5 million in the final FY 2021 bill – a $19 million increase over FY 2020.

  • The final agreement includes the increases for the non-assessment line items in the House bill and the $12 million for NAEP in the Senate bill.
  • The report language includes a request for IES to submit an operating plan within 90 days of enactment.
  • The COVID package includes $28 million in emergency funding for IES, all allocated to NAEP.