Battle over spending cuts has only just begun
After several days’ consideration of hundreds of amendments, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, 235-198, legislation to fund federal government programs through Fiscal Year 2011, which will end on September 30. (Read more about the debate on amendments that targeted research grants in this issue’s article APA Defends Peer Review During House Budget Debate.) The bill would reduce current federal spending by approximately $60 billion, and included cuts of $1.6 billion to the NIH budget and $359 million to NSF. However this is only one step in a multi-part process still to play out.
The Senate will begin considering the bill the week of February 28. The Senate is unlikely to support H.R. 1 as it was passed, so will produce its own version and negotiate. Not only are the spending cuts in popular programs like Head Start, Pell Grants and scientific research too deep for many in the Senate, but the Senate leadership is opposed to provisions in H.R. 1 that revoke authority for several programs that will implement the health care reform law, or “Affordable Care Act.” The federal government is currently funded by a temporary bill (Continuing Resolution) that expires on March 4, 2011. Another short-term Continuing Resolution may be introduced to give more time for the House and Senate to agree on funding for the rest of the year. If the temporary legislation expires without a new law to take its place, a shutdown of government programs could result. Watch for future articles in SPIN, because this drama is only beginning the stakes are certainly high.