Budget Stakeholders Meet, as Leaders Discuss Sequestration Prospects

Rep. Paul Ryan discuses budget sequestration prospects

Yesterday, January 29th, advocates for non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs within the federal budget gathered for a town hall meeting to discuss strategy for further engaging Congress on the impending across-the-board spending reductions.

As mentioned on this site and many others, in just a few weeks budget sequestration will severely reduce NDD and defense spending. The NDD stakeholders group represents hundreds of impacted issue areas from law enforcement to education to medical research. Continue reading

Share Stories and Concerns with the Senate Budget Committee

The Senate Budget Committee is soliciting input on the budget through their website at MyBudget. The webpage provides the public with the opportunity to share their stories in relation to the nation’s economy and budget. Visitors to the site can also tell the Committee what their budget priorities are, as the FY2014 budget will be released by the Committee in April. Finally, individuals can tell the Committee about responsible measures to balance the federal budget, which requires the careful determination of numbers for spending by the federal government. This new page was added on Monday and it provides an easy way for the public to let politicians know of their concerns.

Another Budget Deal Reached, Another Day Closer to Cuts

On January 23rd, the House of Representatives passed legislation to suspend the debt ceiling until May 18th, meaning that the Treasury Department will be able to fulfill its spending obligations until then. The Senate and White House have indicated that they will go along with the House bill on the debt limit -despite reservations over the short length of the suspension. However, a budget for this year and a longer-term spending plan to avoid the approaching across-the-board cuts appears to be in even greater jeopardy, as the House majority has identified this as the battle they wish to have. Government programs, including those supporting research at NIH and NSF, are vulnerable to cuts of 5.1% of their budgets for this year and deeper cuts in the out-years. These cuts will begin in less than two month, on March 1st. The most immediate cuts will apply to the remaining budget of Fiscal Year 2013, which ends on September 30th. As a consequence, if an alternative is not developed, federal agencies will have a short and immediate window to achieve the prescribed FY13 cuts.

**2/1/13 Update** Debt Ceiling Suspension Approved by Senate, and Sent to President Obama

White House Statement on Short-Term Debt Limit Suspension

OMB Guidance to Agencies on Sequester

Rep. DeLauro Urges Action, Critiques Fiscal Cliff Deal

Today, in a Capitol Hill meeting with dozens of health and research groups (including AADR), Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) called on advocates to keep up the pressure on Congress. In a combination of prepared and off-the-cuff remarks, the Congresswoman explained that now is no time for advocates of health and research to rest, despite passage of a tax deal to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Rep. DeLauro voted against the New Year’s Day tax compromise primarily because it does nothing to avert deep cuts to discretionary funding to agencies such as the National Institutes of Health. She stated that the tax compromise actually puts increased pressure on spending for health and research by permanently removing certain options to increase revenue. Continue reading

Supreme Court Denies Challenge to Stem Cell Research

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a challenge (Sherley v. Sebelius) — to a lower court ruling that allows limited stem cell research to move forward — made by scientists James Sherley and Theresa Deishner. The two had argued that Congressional actions have forbidden such research, even on existing cell lines of embryonic tissue. However, the Obama Administration has authorized research utilizing existing cell lines developed from embryonic tissue in in vitro fertilization, taking the view that it does not involve the new destruction of embryos. In their petition to the Supreme Court, Sherley and Deishner claim that the government failed to address comments on the legality of such research during its implementation of President Obama’s Executive Order, thus rendering the resultant guidelines illegal. The Supreme Court denied the challenge without comment.

Statement by NIH Director Francis Collins

Fiscal Cliff Deal Leaves Research Cuts on the Horizon

On New Year’s day, the Senate and House passed legislation, American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, to address the tax portion of the fiscal cliff and delay the across-the-board cuts (a.k.a. “sequester”) to federal agencies by two months.

Bush-era tax rates made permanent for 99%- The legislation permanently extends 2012 tax rates for annual income below $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples.

Across-the-board cuts delayed- According to the White House, “the agreement saves $24 billion, half in revenue and half from spending cuts which are divided equally between defense and non-defense, in order to delay the sequester for two months. This will give Congress time to work on a balanced plan to end the sequester permanently through a combination of additional revenue and spending cuts in a balanced manner.” Continue reading