Fiscal year 2012 begins at last

‘Megabus’ spending legislation contains nine appropriations bills

The President is expected to sign H.R. 2055, the $915 billion ‘megabus’ spending legislation, soon. This bill contains nine appropriations bills including the Labor-Health and Human Services and Education bill (PDF, 2.93MB) that funds NIH. In total, program funding for labor, health and education would fall about $1.4 billion to stay within the caps set in the Budget Control Act. The Department of Health and Human Services receives a total of $69.7 billion in the bill, which is nearly $700 million below the last year's level and $3.4 billion below the President's budget request.  

After some technical fund transfers, the NIH program level funding is $30.698 billion, a slight increase of $299 million over FY 2011. The conferees “strongly urge NIH to maintain extramural research at least at 90% of the NIH budget in FY12.” Other conference instructions include an admonition that NIH should maintain funds that support basic research, and language that eliminates the National Center for Research Resources and creates the National Center to Advance Translational Sciences, a top priority for NIH Director Francis Collins. APA and its coalition partners had lobbied for a larger increase for NIH, but the slight increase awarded in a very difficult economic climate attests to at least partial success for the advocacy efforts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is funded at a program level of $6.124 billion, a decrease of $157 million below last year’s level.  The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) receives $6.476 billion, $41 million below last year's level. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), with a program level funding of 3.484 billion, is cut $27 million below last year's level. The megabus includes $594.7 million for the Institute of Educational Sciences (IES), including $11 million for awards to public or private organizations or agencies to support activities to improve data coordination, quality and use at the local, State and national levels.

All of the numbers above will be reduced, however. H.R. 2055 includes a 0.189 percent across-the-board cut to all Labor-HHS program accounts except Pell Grants. Another across-the-board cut that would have offset funding for emergency disaster relief aid was passed by the House but rejected by the Senate.

The Prevention and Public Health Fund used to fund programs at agencies including CDC, SAMHSA and HRSA, is reportedly fully funded at $1 billion. The Fund, created by the Affordable Care Act, narrowly escaped deep cuts this week when the House agreed to the Senate’s version of the two-month payroll tax extension bill, which did not include the House’s provision that used a significant portion of the Fund as an offset for the Medicare “doc fix.” We expect that the Fund will continue to be a target for offsets in future funding negotiations.

APA’s Science GRO was thrilled to see that the megabus bill restored funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) research account, which had been slashed in the Administration’s budget proposal. H.R. 2055 includes $581 for VA research, no change over Fiscal Year 2011.