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Federal research funding expected to rise modestly

A budget agreement approved by US lawmakers means more money for science compared with sequester-hit 2013.

Cuts in discretionary spending that were due to take effect on 1 January were averted with the Senate's passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act on 18 December. Instead, fiscal-year 2014 spending will rise slightly from last year’s level, to $1.012 trillion. The compromise splits the $90 billion difference between the House- and Senate-passed budgets. Nondefense discretionary spending will increase 4.5% from its current, sequestered level, to $491.8 billion.

Working with a common top-line number, appropriators on both sides of the Capitol were finally able to begin drafting their respective omnibus spending bills for FY 2014, which began last 1 October. Most of the individual appropriations bills that fund research agencies have been drafted by House and Senate appropriations subcommittees, but the figures they contain will have to be adjusted up or down to fit within the agreed budget cap.

Both Appropriations Committee chairs—Hal Rogers (R-KY) for the House and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) for the Senate—have pledged to have their bills ready in time for debate, passage, and reconciliation prior to expiration of a stopgap spending measure on 15 January. Congress is due to return from the holiday recess on 6 January.

Senate Budget Committee chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) said the agreement “roll[s] back sequestration’s harmful cuts to education, medical research, infrastructure investments, and defense jobs for the next two years.”

“The Bipartisan Budget Act is a modest but important easing of sequestration that makes it possible for Congress to begin closing the nation’s innovation deficit,” commented Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American Universities. “The sequester has forced deep cuts in research and higher education that have reduced opportunities for discovery and undermined the careers of America’s next generation of scientists.”


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