The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have begun work on their respective Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 appropriations bills. Most of the drama typically associated with appropriations season is absent this year because top-line spending limits have already been set by the budget agreement passed by Congress in December 2013. Committee leaders have given direction to the subcommittees to start drafting the 12 annual appropriations bills in the form of 302(b) allocations, which provide guidance for how federal spending should be distributed among various agencies and departments.
The House and Senate bills are expected to track relatively closely with a few notable exceptions, including the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) bill, which provides funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Labor-HHS appropriations bill, which the House is recommending be cut by $1 billion and the Senate is recommending a modest increase, has grown more controversial in recent years because it includes funding for some provisions of the Affordable Care Act and other large social programs.
PAN submitted testimony to the Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee on May 12, 2014 requesting $32 billion for NIH and an increase for the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) to help implement the 31 priority recommendations for Parkinson’s disease research adopted by NINDS following the Parkinson’s Planning Meeting in January. Similar testimony was submitted to the House Labor-HHS Subcommittee in March.
Because it is an election year, there is concern that appropriations work may stall over the summer to avoid lengthy battles over policy issues before November. This would likely lead to Congress to pass a Continuing Resolution to keep the government funded until sometime after the elections.
We will continue to monitor this issue closely and let you know when there are opportunities to engage with your Members of Congress.