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INSIDE (THE BELTWAY) SCOOP – JENNIFER ZEITZER
Created by on 03/05/2012

Although some lawmakers are still recovering from the bruising fights over federal spending that dominated the legislative agenda last year, the fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget and appropriations process is underway on Capitol Hill. Since the White House released President Obama’s FY 2013 budget last month, cabinet secretaries and agency leaders have appeared before a number of congressional committees to answer questions about and defend the administration’s funding priorities. Concern about the growing federal deficit and a desire to cut spending even further are two themes that have echoed throughout the hearings. The budgets of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy, two agencies that would receive increases under the President’s proposal, were discussed at hearings held by the House Science and Technology Committee and the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee on February 28th (see related stories in this newsletter). Review of the budget for medical research is expected to take place over the next few weeks as officials from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) make the rounds on Capitol Hill. NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins will testify at a House Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on March 20th. The Senate LHHS Subcommittee will hear from Dr. Collins and several NIH institute directors on March 28th.
 
In addition to hearing from administration officials, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have also announced the deadlines for interested organizations and groups to submit “outside witness testimony” related to FY 2013 funding requests (see calendar below).
 
OUTSIDE WITNESS TESTIMONY DEADLINES
 
 
MARCH 2012
 
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Senate CJS Subcommittee
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House Agriculture Subcommittee
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House CJS Subcommittee
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House LHHS Subcommittee
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House E & W Subcommittee &
Senate Agriculture Subcommittee
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OUTSIDE WITNESS TESTIMONY DEADLINES
 
 
APRIL 2012
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House Mil Con/VA Subcommittee
 
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Senate E & W Subcommittee
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Senate LHHS Subcommittee
 
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The House LHHS and Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittees are also holding special hearings to give members of the public the opportunity to share their opinions on 2013 agency budgets. FASEB has applied to testify on behalf of the NSF budget before the CJS Subcommittee at their public witness hearing on March 22nd and hopes to appear before the LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee on March 29th to discuss the federation’s request for $32 billion for NIH. In the meantime, Representatives Edward Markey (D-MA) and Brian Bilbray (R-CA) are in the process of collecting signatures from their House colleagues on a bipartisan letter to the Appropriations Committee urging that they allocate $32 billion for NIH in FY 2013. The letter notes that NIH is a driver of economic growth and plays an important role in “bettering the lives of millions of Americans”. It also quotes from FASEB’s FY 2013 Federal Funding Report. To date, Representatives Joe Courtney (D-CA), Susan Davis (D-CA), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Sander Levin (D-MI), Ben Lujan (D-NM), Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), Jackie Speier (D-CA), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) have signed the Markey-Bilbray letter.  
 
As the Appropriations Committees focus on the process of hearing lawmaker’s and the public’s perspectives on FY 2013 funding for various agencies and programs, the House Budget Committee is attempting to develop an overall spending plan known as the Budget Resolution. The Budget Resolution is expected to be a purely symbolic exercise because the Budget Control Act (BCA) adopted by Congress last August already established the total spending cap for 2013 and beyond. Nonetheless, Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) is moving forward by holding listening sessions with House Republicans to get their input. Among the issues rumored to be under discussion is whether to adhere to the BCA discretionary funding cap or reduce it to attract support from fiscally conservative Republicans who are seeking additional spending cuts. The Budget Committee could vote on the Budget Resolution the third week of March, followed by full House consideration in early April. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) already announced that the Senate will not develop its own spending plan nor will it vote on anything that might be approved by the House.
 
Given that the House and Senate are unlikely to agree on a compromise Budget Resolution, the Appropriations Committees are expected to move forward with consideration of the annual funding bills based on the spending limits outlined in the BCA. A specific schedule of mark-ups has not been announced yet, although there is some speculation that the Senate Appropriations Committee may try to complete work on all but the LHHS and Defense bills by the end of May. In the meantime, the leaders of each subcommittee are waiting to receive their spending allotments known as the 302 (b) allocations. The subcommittees will then divide the money between agencies within their jurisdiction in order to decide how much funding will be provided to each federal program.

 


 

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