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Congress Reaches 2017 Funding Deal to Avoid Shutdown; NIH to Get $2 Billion Boost

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Republican and Democratic legislators reached an agreement Sunday night on spending for FY 2017. Known as an omnibus spending package, the legislation totals more than $1 trillion and will fund the government through the rest of fiscal 2017, which ends September 30. Lawmakers are expected to vote on the comprehensive measure this week before the current CR expires and funding runs this Friday. Under this agreement, the National Institutes of Health will get a $2 billion funding boost over the next five months, as outlined during the appropriations process.

As reported in The Hill, the bill's $15 billion increase in defense funding is matched by a $15 billion increase in non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding over the FY 2017 caps. This "extra" $15 billion for defense and $15 billion for NDD over the sequester caps is what was agreed to in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (BBA), and was the level the Appropriations Committees had always assumed. You'll recall that conservative opposition to the BBA is why the House never brought their FY 2017 budget to the floor for a vote last year.

Despite the call for dramatic cuts in the President’s recent budget proposal for 2018, where Trump called to slash the NIH’s budget by about a fifth, or $5.8 billion, many see this outcome in Congress as a clear message from lawmakers that both sides of the aisle prioritize funding for medical research.

If all goes as planned and the package passes at the end of the week, it will be the second consecutive year that Congress gives a $2 billion funding bump to the agency, which bodes well for the upcoming cycle.

The next spending showdown is not far off, however, expected this fall, as Congress will need to pass a new package by October 1; but for today, a sigh of relief for the biomedical research community.

Last updated: May 1, 2017 

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