Congress Deliberating Budget Levels, Funding for Science at Stake

The fiscal year 2024 (FY24) appropriations process is in full swing on Capitol Hill. Appropriations subcommittees are busy with hearings featuring testimony from leadership of Federal agencies, including several of particular interest to FABBS members, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH).

[FABBS Science Funding Dashboard – FABBS

Authorizing committee testimonies are integral to helping policymakers understand scientific priorities. 

Committees in Both Chambers Hear from NSF

Over the past two weeks, National Science Foundation (NSF) Director, Sethuraman Panchanathan, defended the agency’s FY24 funding request before House and Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice, and Science subcommittees with jurisdiction over the NSF. The FY24 President’s Budget Request for the NSF is $11.3 billion, an increase nearly $2.5 billion – or 28 percent – over the FY23 base discretionary enacted level. 

At both hearings, the Director emphasized the importance of NSF’s continuous investment in infrastructure, emerging technologies, and workforce development. Dr. Panch emphasized that the NSF vision is to provide equal opportunities for every individual to thrive in the STEM industry of our nation. With fierce global competition, the Director stressed the need to maintain our competitive edge by prioritizing domestic talent and making programming and investments accordingly, so that we can continue to lead in scientific knowledge and discovery. 

FABBS submitted testimony supporting an increase in NSF funding. [See Coalition for National Science Funding FY24 Request (Letter to the House, and Letter to the Senate)]

House Labor-HSS Committee Hears from NIH Leadership

Interim director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Lawrence Tabak recently testified before the House Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) subcommittee that has jurisdiction over the NIH budget. The FY24 President’s Budget Request for the NIH is 48.3 billion  – a mere 1.70 % increase over FY23, and much lower than the community request.  

During his testimony, Dr. Tabak emphasized that the budget request aims to maintain progress in the COVID-19 response, improve maternal health, address mental health needs, develop a universal flu vaccine, and continue investments in the Cancer Moonshot. Subcommittee Chair Robert Aderholt (R-AL) and Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) both expressed concern about the administration’s proposed disproportionate increase in funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) compared to the essentially stagnant funding for the NIH in FY 2024. FABBS submitted testimony in favor of funding increases at both the NIH and ARPA-H.  

The Senate Labor-HHS Subcommittee is scheduled to hear testimony on the NIH budget on May 4. 

GOP Budget Plan Reveals Drastic Spending Cuts

As the appropriations subcommittees work to develop their budgets for individual agencies, House leadership is moving forward with a plan to establish top line budget numbers for their own FY24 priorities. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has developed a plan to reduce the national debt. The plan, called the “Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023,” includes measures such as reducing non-defense discretionary spending, reforming entitlement programs, and using economic growth to reduce the debt. Some detrimental cuts to our disciplines include:  

  • Rescission of Unobligated COVID Funding: Rescinds all unobligated balances of amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.  
  • Reduced funding for critical programs in the CHIPS + Science Act: curtails our ability to stop jobs from being shipped to China. 

 The House narrowly passed the debt limit bill Wednesday night. It will likely not pass in a Democrat-controlled Senate.  

Appropriations, House, Senate