On December 19, 2019, Congress passed and the president signed legislation funding the federal government for the remainder of FY2020, avoiding a government shutdown. The legislation included increases of $2.6 billion for NIH, $636 million for CDC, $203 million for NSF, and $91 million for FDA. AHRQ received level funding for FY20 (relative to the significant cut included in the Senate bill, this was a favorable outcome). The appropriations legislation also empowered CDC to begin upgrading our nation’s outdated disease surveillance system, permanently repealed the medical device tax, and reauthorized the Patient-Centered Outcomes Institute (PCORI) for 10 years.
With last year’s budget agreement, Congressional leaders and the White House have already locked in overall government spending levels for FY 21 non-defense discretionary (NDD) and defense spending, setting the stage for the 12 appropriations bills that would flow from those topline numbers. Unfortunately, the agreement provides for just a $5 billion increase across all agencies and programs in the non-defense discretionary category.
These circumstances create challenges for Congress, but Research!America and the medical and health research advocacy community plan to continue to make the case for robust funding increases for science and public health agencies, since the dynamics created by the caps deal do not change the reality that medical, public health and scientific progress are not assigned the priority merited by their enduring and compounding national and global impact.
The President’s FY21 budget, which is nonbinding, will be unveiled on February 10. There is a rumored possibility that congressional leaders will attempt to expedite the appropriations process, working to wrap up FY21 funding by early summer. This being an election year further muddies the appropriations process outlook. For that reason, Research!America is launching a social media campaign making the case for an expedited appropriations process that includes the funding needed to secure our nation’s at-risk global R&D leadership.