Last week Congress made progress on a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government funded through the end of the fiscal year September 30, 2013. The Senate is now considering legislation that the House passed last week to maintain government funding and avoid a shutdown after the current continuing resolution expires on March 27th. The current CR maintains funding for federal programs primarily at their FY12 levels, which meets the $1.043 trillion level agreed to in the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011.
The current CR has been funding federal programs at largely their FY12 levels, with few program changes, since the fiscal year began on October 1. The CR was put in place because Congress was unable to give final approval to any of the FY13 appropriations bills. The inflexibility of the CR in extending current funding levels and rules makes it difficult for federal agencies to manage their budgets, a problem that has been compounded in FY13 by the $85 billion in across-the-board cuts required by the sequester.
The Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) sent a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee leaders on March 8 urging them to pass an omnibus appropriations bill for FY13 rather than a continuing resolution (CR). An omnibus appropriations bill would provide full-year FY13 appropriations bills for all federal agencies. As the associations said in their letter, enactment of an omnibus appropriations bills would mark a “return to rationality in the appropriations process” and “allow Congress to carry out its responsibility to determine spending and investment priorities for the fiscal year rather than defaulting to the status quo and allowing federal investments in key areas to erode by way of neglect and inflation.” They praised senators for moving in the direction of an omnibus bill by providing full-year bills for additional agencies, and they asked the two leaders to give priority in the final bill to student financial aid and scientific research.
Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and John McCain (R-AZ) have developed an amendment to the continuing resolution that would eliminate National Science Foundation (NSF) funding for political science research, diverting $7 million of the $10 million total to the National Cancer Institute. Joining with the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public Land-grant Universities, UO President Michael Gottfredson and Vice President for Research and Innovation Kimberly Andrews Espy sent a letter to Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley urging them to oppose the amendment and highlighting UO research funded through the NSF political science program. Members of the Oregon delegation have previously helped turn back attempts during budget consideration to disrupt competitive peer reviewed research.
The letter is available on UO’s Federal Affairs page.