October is here and the first day of the month brought the beginning of fiscal year 2018. September started with a flurry of activity on Capitol Hill. On September 8, 2017, the House and Senate packaged and passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) that flat-funds government until December 8, provided supplemental disaster aid for those affected by Hurricane Harvey, and increased the federal debt ceiling.
The short-term CR gives Congress more time to plan the path forward for FY18 appropriations. The House passed a 12-bill omnibus (H.R.3354) on September 14 and sent it to the Senate. The Senate Appropriations Committee has passed most of the FY18 appropriations bills, but has yet to send any to the Senate floor for consideration.
All of the appropriations bills making their way through the House and Senate assume achieving some sort of budget deal. The House omnibus bill exceeds the FY18 defense budget cap and the pending Senate bills are above the budget caps as well. If either the House omnibus package or the 12 Senate bills were signed into law without a deal to raise the budget caps, an across-the-board spending cut would automatically be triggered to reconcile spending to the budget caps. It remains critically important to make the case for a bipartisan budget deal that raises FY18 caps on defense and non- defense discretionary (NDD) spending. On September 11 and 12, Research!America hosted a two-day digital #RaiseTheCaps initiative urging Congress to lift the FY18 spending caps, and we will continue to make the case for a budget deal as Congress considers FY18 funding legislation.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still in place after the latest repeal-and-replace legislation, the “Cassidy-Graham” bill, failed to secure sufficient support to pass the Senate. The legislation would have eliminated the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) and repealed the medical device excise tax. Research!America continues to urge Congress to preserve the PPHF, which plays a crucial role in CDC’s ability to protect public health, and to end the medical device tax, which disincentivizes investment in life-saving medical technologies.
On September 26, the Senate passed their version of the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The legislation included damaging provisions that place the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) at risk. However, the House and Senate still need to reconcile differences between their two versions of the NDAA bill through “conference” negotiations, and each pass the compromise bill. Research!America sent a letter to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX-13) and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA-9) urging them to oppose the damaging CDMRP provisions, and reject language in the accompanying report that would compromise the integrity and effectiveness of DoD’s technology transfer program.