Earlier in the week, Senator Tom Harkin, Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations, put forward an amendment to the FY13 continuing resolution/omnibus spending package offered by Senate Appropriations Chair Barbara Mikulski. The spending package offered by Senator Mikulski would provide a near level-funding base (compared with FY12) for most agencies, with actual budget prioritization for a few agencies (e.g. Commerce, Justice, National Science Foundation, Defense, Homeland Security, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs) and a list of anomalies (including NIH) that would deviate slightly from the flat-funding policy applied to most areas. The roughly 5% sequestration cut to most agencies and programs would then be applied to the base, bring most considerably lower than their FY12 appropriation. Senator Harkin’s amendment adds the Labor-HHS-Education and Related Agencies spending accounts to the list of agencies that Senator Mikulski has provided actual prioritized budget figures for. According to staff on Senator Harkin’s subcommittee, the amendment has a neutral fiscal impact as it puts off anticipated increases for the implementation of the state exchanges included in the Affordable Care Act.
Of particular note to the AADR community, the Harkin amendment raises the FY13 base for NIH by $211 million while Senator Mikulski’s bill lists NIH as an anomaly and provides an increase of $71 million. The CDC Division of Oral Health is given a considerable boost from $15 million to $19 million in Senator Harkin’s amendment, while it is not specifically addressed in Senator Mikulski’s continuing resolution/omnibus package.
**UPDATE 3/14/13** Senator Harkin’s amendment and another by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), which would have restored most of the NIH reduction associated with sequestration, were defeated this week. The $1.6 billion reduction to the NIH budget remains on course.
Even if Senator Harkin’s amendment passes the Senate, a big “if” at this point, it’s path in the House of Representatives is unclear and it would still result in roughly a $1.3 billion cut to NIH in the final six months of FY13 -unless an alternative to sequestration is developed. Additional details should be available shortly.
Harkin Amendment Overview and Grid