With all the should-have-always-been-done-this-way good budget news coming out of Congress, we wanted to let our members know more details on what is likely to happen early in the 2014 calendar year.
As of publication, both the House and Senate have passed the budget agreement without major changes. This will allow the appropriations process to move forward. While the budget agreement isn’t great, it does give legislators a bit more breathing room to fund things they say are important (such as higher education and research), creating an opening for advocacy and having the community weigh in on these issues.
To that end, CRA has signed on to a number of letters in support of key research agencies in the Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) budgets. The Coalition for National Security Research (CNSR) recently put out a statement in support of Defense Science and Technology (S&T) programs. The statement calls for funding the S&T programs at the FY14 National Defense Authorization Act (H.Res. 1960) levels, “which passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support.”
In addition, the Energy Sciences Coalition (ESC), which supports science research at the Department of Energy, specifically in the DOE Office of Science, sent a letter to the House and Senate appropriators urging them to, “assign a high priority to funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E).”
On the NSF front, with a budget framework in place, the House Science, Space, & Technology Committee can move forward with the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology Act of 2013 (FIRST Act). This is the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Acts of 2007 and 2010. The Coalition for the National Science Foundation (CNSF) has sent a statement to the Science Committee advocating for a reauthorization bill that will, “set forth a robust vision to maintain our Nation’s leadership in science and technology.”
In short: things are moving again on Capitol Hill. Hopefully, 2014 and the Fiscal Year 2015 budget will be more normal and less brinkmanship. We have our hopes and our doubts on what might happen. The President and Congressional leaders are saying we’ve turned a corner; however, we’re reminded of a basic law of the universe: objections in motion stay in motion and objects at rest stay at rest. Congress hasn’t been operating normally for some time and it will take quite a lot of effort for it to get back to a regular budget procedure. Only time will tell if this is a change from the past or just a pause.