Continuing Resolutions Will Likely Take Spending Talks into 2018

Last week, Congress approved and the president signed H.J. Res 123, a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through December 22. The CR, which avoids a shutdown and keeps federal programs operating at current levels, modified the expiration date of the previous CR set to expire on December 8. All of the previous CR provisions carry forward through December 22. After this date, another funding measure – either another CR or a spending bill funding the government for the remainder of fiscal year 2018 – will be needed. Despite the two-week buffer, there is already an expectation that a second CR into January will need to be passed to give lawmakers more time to complete their work.

These funding measures have implications for research and come into play as Republicans and Democrats negotiate longer-term deals over government funding, which include raising the defense and non-defense budget caps and passing an omnibus spending package for fiscal year 2018 appropriations.

By way of background, at the beginning of the fiscal year, October 1, 2017, spending limits on military and domestic programs came into effect as a result of 2011’s Budget Control Act. Consequently, if Congress wants to increase funding for defense and non-defense programs, lawmakers first need to pass a budget deal to lift the caps and then pass a spending bill containing the actual appropriations for fiscal year 2018 (e.g., funding for the Department of Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies). Importantly for the dental, oral and craniofacial research community, it is important to note that for the Senate’s proposed increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) to be realized, Congress will need to make a deal to raise the caps.

Congressional negotiators are currently considering a two-year budget deal to do just that – potentially raising the caps by more than $200 billion. However, Republicans and Democrats are working under different priorities. Republicans are looking to increase the defense budget – initially seeking a deal that would raise defense by $54 billion and non-defense by $37 billion in both fiscal 2018 and 2019 – and Democrats are seeking parity, proposing increasing defense and non-defense equally by $54 billion, a move that would raise the two-year cost above $200 billion.

In addition reaching consensus on top-line numbers and finding a solution for Democrats’ demand for parity, a number of challenges remain for the budget deal as negotiators look to it as a vehicle to pass other legislation, such as the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and a third emergency supplemental for communities affected by this year’s natural disasters.

According to CQ Roll Call, a GOP aide speculates that a budget agreement will be announced December 18, just a few days before the December 22 deadline to pass another funding measure.

AADR will be closely monitoring these developments over the coming weeks given their implications for research funding. Under a CR, NIH will be paying out grants at a lower rate than they would under regular appropriations (see a previous NIH CR notice here). Therefore, it is critical that Congress pass regular appropriations through the end of the year to provide stability for medical research.

If you have questions, please contact AADR’s Assistant Director of Government Affairs Lindsey Horan or continue to check the AADR Government Affairs and Science Policy Blog for updates.

Dental Community Urges Congress to Support Funding for Oral Health Programs

This month, the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) and the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) sent  letters to the House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittees urging them to provide modest programmatic increases to allow more Americans to have access to better oral health.  The letter included a chart of funding priorities for oral health research and programs, including a request for Congress to provide $430.5 million for the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) in the final appropriation bill for fiscal year 2017. These organizations also noted the significant and detrimental impact a six month or year long continuing resolution would have on these programs and the populations they serve. ADA, AAPD, ADEA and AADR therefore urged Congress to approve an omnibus appropriation bill after the election.

Budget Update

This week Congress approved their budget resolutions by a 52-46 vote in the Senate and a 228-199 vote in the House. The budget resolutions essentially are a blueprint laying out Congressional priorities for the next year. The House and Senate will now develop a compromise agreement or conference report in the upcoming weeks. Unfortunately, both bills keep in place the sequester level caps on non-defense discretionary spending. Non-defense discretionary spending funds important components of the federal government including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). By adhering to the austere spending caps it will be virtually impossible for Congress to provide meaningful increases in funding for NIH in the upcoming fiscal year.

There may be a small glimmer of hope however, according to CQHealthbeat, “Some in the GOP see the House and Senate budgets as an opening bid in a likely negotiation with the White House later this year. Such talks would look for broader changes in the spending caps that many lawmakers argue should be raised both for defense and domestic programs.” AADR will continue to advocate on behalf of our members urging Congress to undo sequestration, raise the caps on non-defense discretionary spending and reinvest in biomedical research.

What is next? After Congress votes on the budget resolution conference report, the appropriations committees receive their funding allocations and will begin their work drafting appropriations bills. Historically, Congress will release the text of those bills in early summer.

AADR Issues Statement about House FY16 Budget Resolution

House FY16 Budget Resolution: Bad for Biomedical Research, Unhealthy for Americans

The American Association for Dental Research (AADR) is deeply disappointed with the fiscal year (FY) 2016 Budget Resolution adopted today by the House Budget Committee. By adhering to austere spending caps in the short term, this spending blueprint will further slow progress on improving the health and well-being of all Americans as well as effectively stifle any opportunities to develop personalized medicine approaches to improve dental, oral and craniofacial health, reduce oral health inequalities, or ensure a robust and diverse pipeline of dental, oral, and craniofacial researchers.

By cutting nondefense discretionary spending an additional $759 billion from FY2017 through FY2025, this budget plan all but assures that the US will continue to lose ground as the world leader in research and development, that its economic growth will be hampered and that American families will lose their best hope for treating and curing debilitating diseases.

Non-defense discretionary spending funds important components of the federal government, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). Many members of Congress have voiced their support for biomedical research, but unless Congress provides a sufficient and reliable investment for NIH, American’s health will suffer.

Over the past several years, funding for NIDCR has dropped 25 percent when adjusted for inflation. This decline in purchasing power is especially troubling because past achievements in oral health during the last half century are in large part the fruits of research supported by NIDCR. Any hope of restoring that momentum would be lost under this budget resolution.

“We hope lawmakers will reject this resolution and work together to develop a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not rely on additional cuts to non-defense discretionary programs,” said AADR President Paul Krebsbach from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

Senate Includes Dental Caries Report Language

Today, the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee released the report accompanying the FY15 Senate LHHS Bill. The subcommittee proposes funding levels of $30.5 billion for NIH and $402.4 million for NIDCR. Additionally, on page 97 the subcommittee included report language about dental caries.

Dental Caries.—The Committee recognizes that dental caries remain the most prevalent chronic disease in both children and adults, resulting in a significant economic and health burden to the American people. Although caries has significantly decreased for most Americans over the past 4 decades, disparities remain among some population groups and this downward trend has recently reversed for young children. The Committee is concerned about conflicting information in the media regarding the benefits of community fluoridation and urges NIDCR to enhance efforts to communicate sound science related to dental caries and their prevention.”

At this time it is unclear when or if the full Senate Appropriations Committee will consider this legislation due to the continued contentious political climate. According to media reports Congress will most likely approve a short term continuing resolution funding the federal government at fiscal year 2014 levels through the November elections.

AADR will provide a more detailed analysis of the Senate LHHS bill and report during the next week. If you have any questions please contact Carolyn Mullen cmullen@aadr.org

 

President Obama’s FY15 Budget Request

Yesterday, President Obama presented his FY15 budget request to Congress. This budget adheres to the caps or the overall amount of funding available for discretionary spending as dictated by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 and proposes cuts and reforms to make room for, “investments in priority areas such as research, clean energy, early learning and ending homelessness.” The budget released yesterday only includes top line funding levels. Additional detailed information is expected to be released later this week.

Specifically the FY15 President’s budget proposes the following:

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH), $30.2 billion in total budget authority, an approximate 1% increase over the FY14 level of $30 billion
  • National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), $397.13 million, a $1.5 million or 0.3% decrease from the FY14 appropriated level of $398.65 million or a .01% increase from the FY14 final enacted level of $397.102 million
  • National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, $657.47 million, a $24.2 million or 3.6% increase over the FY14 level of $633.27 million
  • National Science Foundation, $7.255 billion, a 1.2% or $83 million increase from the FY14 level of $7.171 billion
  • Agency for Health Research and Quality $334 million in base discretionary authority, a 8.2% or $30 million decrease from the FY14 level of $364 million.

The President is also proposing increased funding for research through the, “Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative.” This program if enacted by Congress would provide an additional $28 billion for non defense discretionary programs paid for via tax reforms and changes in mandatory programs. This proposal would include an additional $970 million for the National Institutes of Health, “to increase the number of grants funded and invest in the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative (BRAIN).” At this time it is unclear if this proposal would boost funding to other institutes, like NIDCR at the NIH. Also, it is important to note, these proposed targeted increases included in the “Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative,” are not included in the aforementioned agency funding proposals outlined above.

The President’s budget is a document that outlines the administration’s funding priorities for the upcoming fiscal year and Congress as the authority to approve, reject or modify the recommendations included in the budget.

AADR will continue to advocate for Congress to provide $32 billion for NIH and $425
million for NIDCR in the FY15 Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriation Bill.

For additional information click the links below:
Office of Management and Budget Overview
Department of Health and Human Services Budget Appendix
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research Congressional Justification

Analysis of Budget Cuts Impact to Biomedical Research

Last week, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)
released an analysis of the impact sequestration had on biomedical research.  According to their analysis, in constant dollars the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget in fiscal year (FY) 2013 was $6 billion less than FY2003. Additionally, the number of competing research project grants awarded by NIH decreased by 20.3% from FY2003-FY2013. AADR will continue to partner with research community urging Congress to roll back all of the cuts administered by sequestration and increase funding for the National Institutes of Health.

FY14 Appropriations Bill Proposes Funding for NIH, NIDCR and other agencies

Late last night the House and Senate Appropriations Committee released the Consolidated
Appropriations Act of 2014,
which provides proposed funding levels and report language for the remainder of fiscal year 2014.  Congress still needs to approve and vote on this legislation in order for it to become law.

First of all, thank you to all our advocates who responded to the AADR Action Alerts, contacted your Members of Congress, invited them to your campuses, wrote editorials and other activities that heightened their awareness of the importance of a strong biomedical research enterprise for America.  Your efforts were noted and against all odds, the Consolidated Appropriations Act contains a Labor-Health and Human Services (L-HHS) appropriations section.

Specifically, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 proposes to fund the National Institutes of Health at $29.926 billion and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) at $398.7 million, which is nearly a one billion dollar increase for NIH and an $11.7 million increase from the FY13 post-sequestration level for NIDCR. However, this is still $766 million below FY12 for NIH and $11.6 million below for NIDCR.  It is important to note that the approximate one billion increase provided to the NIH, “…(was) generally distributed proportionately among NIH Institutes and Centers.” The other additional amounts were added to the National Institute of Aging in recognition of Alzheimer’s research and also to other institutes in anticipation of research in connection to the Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative.

Additionally, the explanatory statement accompanying the bill includes report language
encouraging the director of the NIH to make the development of alternative dental restorative materials a high priority.

“Dental Materials Research-The United Nations (UN) Environmental Programme, International Negotiating Committee completed deliberations in January 2013 on a global legally binding treaty on mercury. The UN agreement contains provisions for the reduction in the use of dental amalgam, as a mercury- added product, and calls for increased dental research into alternative materials. Given the global commitment to reduce all uses of mercury, the NIH Director is expected to make the development of alternative dental restorative materials a high priority.” (Joint Explanatory Statement, Division H-Depts. Of Labor-HHS-Education pg. 38)

AADR also advocates and tracks funding for a number of institutions.  Click here to view a detailed funding chart.

Other Important Provisions

  • The agreement proposes $32 million for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) oral health training program. Within the $32 million no less than $8 million is dedicated for general dentistry programs and not less than $8 million for pediatric dentistry programs. This section also prohibits health workforce funds to be used for section 340G-1, the Alternative Dental Health Care Providers Demonstration
    Program.
  • The agreement includes funding for the early childhood caries initiative within the
    Indian Health Services.  According to the report language, “The Service is encouraged to work with the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) and to consult with Tribes about increasing preventive dental care for children by bringing dentists and hygienists into BIE schools. The Service should continue to make significant strides towards completion of
    electronic dental records. The Service is encouraged to explore establishing a centralized credentialing system to address workforce needs similar to those of the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, to consider a pilot program for the credentialing of dentists, and to propose funding for fiscal year 2015.”
    The Centers for Disease Control and
    Prevention (CDC) programs are directed to actively coordinate with the
    Institutes and Centers of the NIH to identify scientific gaps to accelerate
    understanding of diseases and their prevention knowledge across NIH and CDC
    research portfolios.
  • In accordance with a longstanding tradition funding is not directed to any specific disease research area. The NIH is expected to base its funding decisions only on scientific opportunities and the peer review process.
  • NIH is expected to maintain funding support for basic biomedical research.
  • The NIH Director shall provide a report on Core Techniques and Technologies for Advancing Big Data within 180 days of enactment to the House and Senate Appropriations Committee.
  • The NIH Director and IC Directors are directed to work with the other HHS operating divisions to establish a more systematic means of disseminating research results.
  • The NIH is directed to examine and produce a report on how the post peer review priority setting process, resource allocation process and the portfolio evaluation data and information to ensure that the priority setting process provides decision makers with answers to key questions such as: How the proposed activity
    significantly advances the body of biomedical science; How the proposed activity could contribute to expanding knowledge to improve human health; The relationship and impact of the proposed
    activity to the program goals and objectives; and how the proposed activity could impact the overall research portfolio of the NIH and the national research institute or center involved.
  • The NIH Director shall produce a report regarding the implementation of strategic planning. This report will include information about the prioritization process between rare and neglected diseases while also maintaining a focus balance between translational and basic bio-medical science; and how the plan is harmonized across the NIH ICs to ensure a balanced portfolio that is free of unnecessary duplication and takes advantage of cross-cutting bio-medical research.

For more Information: Click here to read the omnibus appropriations bill and here to read the joint explanatory statement.

What is Next? Today the House will vote on a short term continuing resolution funding the federal government through Jan. 18 to give Congress more time to vote on the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. AADR will keep you informed as this process moves forward.

 

The Next Phase: Funding For Federal Agencies

This week, the Senate approved the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 by a 64-36 vote and President Obama is expected to sign this legislation into law. The next step in this process is the House and Senate Appropriators must begin the challenging job of allocating funding to the federal agencies for the remainder of fiscal year 2014 before funding runs out on Jan. 15, 2014. Since the budget agreement only rolls back a portion of sequestration, it is expected that there will be winners and losers. This means that some agencies and programs may receive increased funding whereas others may lose funding.

To learn more about the Bipartisan Budget Act click here to read an article written by Sam Stein from the Huffington Post, which explains the complex and delicate forthcoming budget negotiations.

Also, AADR urges you to TAKE ACTION today by sending an email to your Member of Congress and urge him/her to increase funding for NIH and NIDCR.

NIH sends informal notice to grantees about potential lapse in appropriated funds

Yesterday the NIH Office of Extramural Research sent the following notice to grantees: 

September 26, 2013

Dear Grantee:

As you are aware, the Government Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 ends on September 30, 2013 and an Appropriation Act for FY2014 has not yet been passed.  The Administration strongly believes that a lapse in appropriations should not occur, and that there is enough time for Congress to act to prevent a lapse.  However, prudent management requires that we prepare for an orderly execution of contingency plans in the unfortunate event of a lapse.  In the event a continuing resolution or a FY2014 budget is not passed and a lapse of funding occurs, I wanted to provide you with information related to our grant administration processes.

Your particular grant program is funded by appropriations that will be affected by a government shutdown.  As a result, if there is a lapse in funding, HHS’ NIH staff will not be available to provide routine administrative support services.  HHS will, however, maintain the Payment Management System in an operational status to continue processing grant drawdown requests. Given that you have received your award prior to the gap in funding, you may  be able to continue drawing funds from prior awards during an appropriations lapse.  If you received your notice of grant award with restrictive terms and conditions, or if your drawdown request triggers one of the Payment Management System edit checks and/or the drawdown limit controls, you will not be able to drawdown funds.

If you are considering submitting an application for additional HHS federal assistance funding, please be advised that the Grants.gov system will be operational during a lapse in funding and will be accepting applications from prospective grantees.   However, for NIH applications the Grants.gov system will only accept and store applications. Applications will not be processed further until such time as the authority and funding to return to normal business operations are restored.

Please check the website at www.hhs.gov for updates.  Thank you for your assistance with this period of a potential government shut-down and your ongoing support of the NIH.

Sally J. Rockey, Ph.D.
NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research
rockeysa@od.nih.gov