Take 5 Minutes to Prevent a Lost Decade

After Labor Day, Congress will return to the work of determining agency/program funding levels for FY12 as well as a 10-year framework that could reduce the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion. Domestic discretionary programs, such as those at NIH and NSF, have been targeted by some to receive a disproportionate share of spending reductions.

A new group within Congress, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, has been given the task of determining how best to achieve the 10-year deficit reduction target. This fall, your House and Senate members will have the opportunity to provide input to the new committee and ultimately to vote on their recommendations. The stakes could not be any higher for those who rely on federal investments. AADR urges members of the oral health community to contact their elected officials, and we’ve made it easy to do so. With just a few clicks of your computer mouse, you can send a message that we’ve drafted or modify it (recommended) to more closely provide your perspective.

Send your letter utilizing the AADR Capitol Hill contact tool -see AADR Featured Alert.

The Super Committee’s Timeline (dates are 2011, unless otherwise noted)
Sept. 8: Organizational meeting of joint committee
Sept. 13: First hearing of joint committee
Oct. 14: Deadline for standing committees to forward their recommendations to the joint committee
Nov. 23: Deadline for joint committee to vote on legislative proposals
Dec. 2: Deadline for joint committee to formally report proposals
Dec. 23: Deadline for House and Senate to vote on proposals, without amendment
Jan. 15: Deadline for enactment of at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, or across-the-board spending cuts will be triggered
Jan. 2, 2013: Across-the-board cuts will take effect -if triggered

AADR Seeking Input on NIDCR FY13 Themes

**REMINDER** Comments requested as soon as possible, but no later than Monday August 22nd.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) is seeking input on topical themes for fiscal year 2013 (October 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013) research initiatives. Proposed NIDCR research themes for FY13 include: (1.) Leveraging FaceBase to Accelerate Understanding of Craniofacial Development, Disorders, and Conditions; and (2.) Development of Imaging Diagnosis of Dental Diseases and Conditions. Each year, as part of the budget development process, NIDCR identifies broad research themes and then develops a specific proposal for each theme –taking into consideration input received from the external community.

AADR will respond to the NIDCR request, on behalf of the organization, and welcomes your thoughts on content. Individuals are asked to send comments and suggestions for the AADR response to Jonathan Nurse, AADR Director of Government Affairs, at jnurse@aadronline.org by Friday August 19, 2011. AADR also encourages individual responses directly to NIDCR. A full copy of the NIDCR request is available here.

**SPECIAL NOTE** If you would like to exchange ideas on the FY13 themes with your colleagues, feel free to post a note on this blog utilizing the “Leave a Comment” link directly below the post.

OMB Paints Bleak Picture

In a letter released yesterday, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) instructed federal agencies to craft FY13 budget requests between 5-10% below their FY11 enacted level. They key section reads:”Unless your agency has been given explicit direction otherwise by OMB, your overall agency request for 2013 should be at least 5 percent below your 2011 enacted discretionary appropriation. As discussed at the recent Cabinet meetings, your 2013 budget submission should also identify additional discretionary funding reductions that would bring your request to a level that is at least 10 percent below your 2011 enacted discretionary appropriation.”

A 5% cut to the NIH budget would take it back to the 2007 level, 10% would set NIH at the 2003 level. The steps backwards are even worse when inflation is considered. The letter does discourage agency and department heads from making the cuts in an across-the-board fashion, as well as calls on these individuals to identify areas that are key to economic development and should maintained or expanded. However, it’s clear that research and development advocates will have an increasingly important role in the weeks and months ahead.

OSTP Implementing Open Access Provision of COMPETES Act

Late last year, Congress passed and the president signed the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Reauthorization Act. The COMPETES Act primarily authorizes steady funding increases for the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The authorized increases are not likely to actually match-up with appropriated funds, given the spending parameters set by the Budget Control Act. However, one consequential provision within COMPETES Act calls for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to create an interagency Public Access Committee to explore the possibility of expanding the federal open access mandate. The committee is considering the implications of an NIH-type open access mandate at all federal agencies with research budgets over $100 million. Requirements could go even further than is currently the case at NIH. One potential item of concern is a shortening of the current 12 month embargo period at NIH, which provides scientific publications a window just barely sufficient to sustain their operations. Continue reading

Super Committee Selected

House and Senate leaders have selected the 12 Members of Congress who will serve on a super committee charged with producing a budget framework for the next 10 years. More specifically, the group will seek $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction through cuts to agencies/programs and potentially with increased revenues -though 6 of 12 members have already signed a pledge to not raise taxes. The committee includes the following individuals:

Senate- Patty Murray (co-chair) (D-Washington), John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), Max Baucus (D-Montana), Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania), Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

House- Jeb Hensarling (co-chair) (R- Texas), Fred Upton (R- Michigan), Dave Camp (R- Michigan), James Clyburn (D- South Carolina), Xavier Becerra (D- California), Chris Van Hollen (D- Maryland).

Do any of the individuals above represent you or your institution? If so, please contact AADR Government Affairs (703-299-8098 or jnurse@aadronline.org) for tools that you can use to quickly highlight the importance of sustained investments in biomedical research.

A Time to Act to Prevent Lasting Harm

Moments after the ink was dry on the Budget Control Act (BCA), which cuts spending over the next 10 years and increases the nation’s credit limit, Members of Congress left DC for the August recess (or “District Work Period,” as many prefer). The month-long recess typically includes a mixture of Member/staff vacation and outreach activities with constituents back home, think town hall forums and visits to campus.

This year, the August congressional recess and the period that follows are of considerable importance to those who depend on federal investments. Continue reading

NIH Seeking Feedback on New Ideas for Common Fund

Request From NIH Staff

[NIH has] developed an interactive website for you to weigh-in on the ideas submitted for new Common Fund programs. This is intended to allow NIH staff and the general community to help shape programs that may emerge from this strategic planning process. In their current form, some of the ideas are very broad and may need to be refined, while others may need to be expanded to have greater impact or to otherwise fully address the criteria for Common Fund programs. The criteria, and how they are generally interpreted, are available from the site. Note that this is not a voting process. Simple statements “for” or “against” a particular idea won’t be quantified.

[NIH] hopes that many people will participate in this interactive dialog over the course of the next 6 weeks. Please forward this message to colleagues in your ICs, and let your communities know about the opportunity to comment.  [NIH] expects to close the site in mid-September and compile the comments for review by OD Leadership. Those ideas that emerge from this process as having the highest potential for broad impact will be discussed with the IC Directors in October. Further planning will be conducted over the subsequent months for new programs to be launched in FY13. The number and complexity of new programs will of course depend on available funds.

Budget Deal Reached, Impact Unclear… But Not Good

[**8/4 Update** On Tuesday, the Senate approved and President Obama signed the Budget Control Act (BCA). Further analysis reveals that FY12 non-security discretionary spending, which includes most of the federal research accounts, will decrease by less than 1%. The BCA includes adjusted definitions for the security and non-security categories, which account for the new estimate. Actual FY12 funding levels for agencies will be determined during a very active fall session.]

Over the weekend, Congress and the White House finally came to agreement on a 10-year two phase plan that claims to cut the deficit by roughly $2.5 trillion while providing a necessary increase in the nation’s debt limit by the same amount. Many economists held that a failure to increase the debt limit would have had catastrophic consequences for the nation.

Stage one of the plan- includes a $1 trillion reduction in spending (FY12-FY21) and a $900 billion increase in the debt limit this year ($400 billion provided immediately to prevent the impending default). Cuts are spread evenly between defense and non-defense agencies, lessening the impact on agencies such as NIH and NSF compared with previous proposals that called for cuts primarily to non-defense programs. For FY12, it appears that the non-defense discretionary budget would be cut by 1%. It is unlikely that Congress will apply a 1%  reduction evenly across agencies and programs. As a result, the annual appropriations process — which will begin again in September — will determine whether AADR priority areas fair better or worse than the 1% mark. August is an ideal time to contact your elected officials. In the days ahead, AADR will be providing suggested talking points on the FY12 budget.

Stage two of the plan- requires Congress to assemble a “super-committee” that identifies another $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, ideally through a mixture of increased revenue and spending cuts. The committee will be comprised of 3 Republicans and 3 Democrats from each chamber of congress -for a total of 12 members. If the committee fails to produce a plan that gets approved by both the House and Senate, across-the-board cuts in defense and non-defense spending would be triggered. According to the White House and leaders in Congress, there are sufficient spending priorities of both parties at risk to encourage a deal of some sort. AADR, and many of its advocacy partners, will work to communicate the importance of research to members of the committee. However, the next several weeks — in the run-up to the release of the committee’s recommendations — will be key for grassroots advocacy. Stay tuned for details on how you can help!

Section-by-Section Analysis

Full Bill

Deficit Deal to Affect Dental Student Loans

The Budget Control Act (Full Bill) passed by Congress yesterday includes provisions that impact federal student loans (see below for yesterday’s post about the deal). While the Federal Pell Grant program gains $17 billion in mandatory funds over the next two years, the student loan program will not be as lucky. Effective July 1, 2012, the subsidized Stafford loan program will end for most graduate and professional students. As a result, students will be eligible to  borrow more through the unsubsidized loan program. Additionally, incentives for on-time repayment of loans including partial rebates of the origination fee and interest rate reduction will end for new loans dispersed on or after July 1, 2012. However,  interest rate reduction will still be available for those repaying loans through electronic debiting.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that these changes will reduce direct spending by $21.6 billion over the 2012-2021 period.