April 8th, 2013, by Amanda Arnold  

Week in Review, or Tackling the Budget

Welcome back after what we hope has been a lovely break. The cold is finally departing and we’re looking forward to a bit of spring here inside the beltway.

As reported in our last edition, both Houses of Congress agreed on a (hybrid) spending bill for FY 2013. The President signed the spending bill (H.R. 933) into law on March 26, 2013, thereby avoiding government shutdown and funding the government through the end of the 2013 fiscal year. But, before we lift your spirits too high, the bill comes just under the required fiscal 2013 cap of $1.043 billion, (as included in the Budget Control Act of 2011), which meant a cut before the process even started on this FY 2013 bill of $59 billion. The bill also maintains sequestration cuts through FY 2013.

On the continued sequester debacle, tthe Rapid Application of New Technologies (SCRA) group has a good rundown, detailing the evolving impact of sequestration cuts on various agencies. Over recess, the impact of sequestration continued to make news with Roll Call reporting that President Obama, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and various members of Congress, including Senator Mark Begich (D-AL) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), will contribute a portion of their salaries back to the Treasury in an effort to stand in solidarity with the employees each of these leaders has ordered furloughed.

In addition to the hybrid FY 2013 spending bill, the House and Senate each passed individual Budget Resolutions for FY 2014, which is promising for the prospect of someday returning to regular order. However, the House and Senate FY 2014 resolutions vary greatly in both scope and ideology and are not expected to go much further, which indicates that the FY 2014 spending debate is long from over.

The House version (H Con Res 25) maintains the sequester cuts and balances the budget within 10 years by cutting projected domestic spending by an additional $4.6 trillion, mostly through the privatization of entitlement programs. The House version also repeals health care reform.

The Senate version (S Con Res 8) would reduce the deficit through $1.8 trillion in savings over 10 years, with $975 billion coming from spending savings and $975 billion from new revenues. The Senate version also includes specific amendments prioritizing federal support for scientific research. Key areas of support in the Senate version include the development of a national network for manufacturing innovation and robust funding for the National Institutes of Health, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), specifically, for high-impact breakthrough clean energy technologies.

Given difficulties in recent years that have resulted in a rather unpredictable congressional budget process, it is heartening to see FY 2014 (almost) on track, at least for now. Of course, Congress is just one player in the FY 2014 budget process, with the President normally submitting his version of the budget to the Hill for their consideration in early February. However, the President has confirmed that his Budget Request for FY 2014 will be delivered to Congress this week on Wednesday, April 10th.

When they return next week, Congress will be looking at the President’s Budget Request, and also wrestling with the debt ceiling, which is expected to expire, this time in mid May. Meanwhile, as Gallup reported last week, the President’s approval rating remains at 50% with Congress at a spry 15%.

Also of Note

Appointments/Departures. On March 25th NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins announced Dr. Jon Lorsch will become director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) effective this summer.

Defense: The Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) released a new white paper, Emerging Science and Technologies: Securing the Nation through Discovery and Innovation, which supports continued funding for basic research and development (R&D) activities, especially where applicable to national security.

Energy. The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy announced on March 26th the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative (CEMI), a new Department effort focused on expanding U.S. manufacturing of clean energy products and increasing energy use in manufacturing processes. 

Health. President Obama unveiled the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative April 2nd, which aims to help researchers find new ways to treat, cure, and prevent brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury. The public-private BRAIN Initiative will be funded by approximately $100 million requested in the President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget, as well as commitments from the private and non-profit sectors. Dr. Collins discusses the BRAIN Initiative during various media appearances, including on The Colbert Report.

Space. According to an announcement in Orlando on April 5th by Senator Nelson (D-FL), the President’s FY 2014 Budget will likely include $100 million for the asteroid-retrieval project. The plan will include catching a near-Earth asteroid (NEA) with a robotic spacecraft, towing the asteroid to a stable lunar orbit, and then launching astronauts to the asteroid using NASA’s Orion capsule and Space Launch System rocket by 2021.

Research. NOAA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) Research and Development Portfolio Review Task Force released the final report on NOAA’s research and development (R&D) portfolio, In the Nation’s Best Interest: Making the Most of NOAA’s Science Enterprise.

In Print

Meg Tirrell writes in Bloomberg News about how continuing budget issues are impacting medical research in Tumors on Ice as Budget Impasse Freezes Medical Research Bloomberg News also addresses the new normal for scientific research after sequestration in Budget Deal Opens ‘Age of Austerity’ for Federal Agencies

Delece Smith-Barrow writes in U.S. News about the impact of sequestration cuts on student admissions in What Graduate Students Should Know About the Sequester

USA Today notes the impact of fading federal funding on the scientific workforce pipeline in Scientists Leaving Labs and Heading for Cubicles

Eamonn Fingleton writes an article about America’s fading (scientific) glory for The New York Times in America the Innovative?

Howard Fineman writes about the ongoing budget crisis’ impact in Huffington Post on biomedical research in Sequestration Stupidity Is Genetic, Hitting Front-Line Medical Research

Politico reports on a dicey future for the national labs in Sequester Looms Over Storied Energy Labs

What’s On Deck

Monday (4/8)

  • A group of 150 national organizations and institutions will gather at a the Rally for Medical Research from 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. at
 the Carnegie Library in Washington, DC to show support for federal funding for biomedical research and the NIH. The event will be live streamed.

Tuesday (4/9)

  • The Council on Competitiveness and Sandia National Laboratories will co-host a congressional briefing with the U.S. House of Representatives Caucus on Science and National Labs on The Future of the United States Research Ecosystem. RSVP to RSVPApril10@compete.org
  • The House Education & the Workforce Committee will hold a subcommittee field hearing in Monroe, Michigan on the Role of Higher Education in Job Growth
  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a full committee hearing on the nomination of Dr. Ernest Moniz to be the Secretary of Energy

Wednesday (4/10)

  • The House Science, Space & Technology will hold a full committee hearing on Threats from Space: A Review of Non-U.S. Government Efforts to Track and Mitigate Asteroids and Meteors, Part II
  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a subcomittee hearing on Our Nation of Builders: Powering U.S. Automobile Manufacturing Forward
  • The House Armed Services Committee will hold a subcommittee hearing on Mental Health Research

Thursday (4/11)

  • The House Ways and Means Committee with hold a full committee hearing the President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Proposal
  • The Senate Budget Committee will hold a full committee hearing on The President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Proposal
  • The Senate Finance Committee will hold a full committee hearing on The President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget
  • The House Appropriations Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing on Oversight Hearing - Nuclear Waste Programs and Strategies

Friday (4/12) 

  • A coalition of organizations including Research!America, AcademyHealth, American Economic Association, Consortium of Social Science Associations, Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics and Population Association of America will hold a congressional briefing on Economics Research: Saving Lives and Money



  1. Week in Review, or Budget III - the Sequel :: NEWScience Policy says:

    April 15th, 2013 at 7:32 am (#)

    […] we’ve been telling you for weeks how far apart ideologically the FY 2014 House and Senate budget resolutions are. Last week, the Chair of the respective Budget […]