Continuing Resolution Funds Government Through April 28
Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) to extend funding for most of the federal government at current (FY2016) levels until April 28, 2017. President Obama signed the CR into law on Saturday, December 10.
The CR includes a 0.19 percent across-the-board cut for all accounts and maintains the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Control Act sequester cap of $1.07 trillion. The stopgap measure will allow appropriators to complete work on the FY2017 spending bills in the 115th Congress, after President-elect Trump takes office.
There are some exceptions to flat funding (known as “anomalies”) included in the CR, such as $872 million for accounts funded by the recently passed 21st Century Cures Act, including $352 million for the NIH Innovation Projects account. The funding measure also extends the Department of Education’s authority to make account maintenance fee payments to guarantee agencies under the Federal Family Education Loan Program for an additional year.
Other anomalies include $170 million to address water infrastructure and health needs in Flint, Michigan, $4.1 billion in disaster relief funds to respond to recent major flood and hurricane damage, and $45 million to extend health care coverage for retired coal miners into the next year.
Details on the 21st Century Cures Act
Yesterday, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law. The law provides $4.8 billion in discretionary funding for a special “Innovation Projects” account to support specific initiatives at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) over the next ten years, including $1.8 billion for the Cancer Moonshot; $1.564 billion for the BRAIN Initiative, and approximately $1.5 billion for the Precision Medicine Initiative. The legislation provides funding offsets for the Innovation Projects account including rescissions from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) public health and prevention fund, unused funds from territories for ACA exchanges, reductions in overpayments in Medicare/Medicaid, and sales from the strategic petroleum oil reserve.
Additionally, the law creates a “Next Generation of Researchers Initiative” to promote and improve opportunities for new researchers. It also includes language to reduce regulatory burdens for researchers and would establish the Research Policy Board at the Office of Management and Budget in the White House.
The Cures Act reauthorizes NIH for FY2018-FY2020, providing an NIH authorization of $36.47 billion by FY2020, an increase of $4.4 billion over current funding levels.
Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Extend DACA Benefits
Also last Friday, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced S. 3542, the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act. The bill would extend temporary relief from deportation and employment authorization to current beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Under the bill, “DREAMers” (young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States by others) who are not current DACA recipients but are eligible for the program may also apply and receive “provisional protected presence” and employment authorization for three years. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are original co-sponsors of the bill. APLU’s statement of support for the BRIDGE Act is available here.
Senate Passes FY2017 NDAA Conference Report
Last week, the Senate passed the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report. For FY2017, the NDAA conference agreement would authorize Department of Defense (DoD) Basic Research (6.1) at $2.142 billion (FY2016 is $2.309 billion), Science and Technology (6.1-6.3) at $12.489 billion (FY2016 is $13.251 billion), and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) at $2.957 billion (FY2016 is $2.891 billion).
The NDAA also extends the Small Business Innovation Research program (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program until FY2022 (Sec. 1834). The bill does not include any changes to the SBIR/STTR set-aside.
The NDAA conference agreement also establishes the Manufacturing Engineering Education program (Sec.215), which would award grants to industry, non-profits, university or consortiums of such groups, to enhance or establish new programs in manufacturing engineering education. The Manufacturing Engineering Education program language is a slightly modified version of the Manufacturing Universities language originally included in the Senate-passed FY2017 NDAA bill.
President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.