Created by on 02/15/2011

The positive news from the President’s budget proposal for FY 2012 follows closely on the heels of proposed cuts to the current year’s funding for research. After months of promising to reduce federal spending by $100 billion as part of the “Pledge to America,” House Republicans turned their rhetoric into reality on February 11th when the Appropriations Committee introduced HR 1, a “continuing resolution” to fund the government for the remaining seven months of fiscal year (FY) 2011. The $100 billion total in HR 1 exceeds a preliminary list of cuts previously announced by the Appropriations Committee on February 9th. HR 1 includes direct cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy Office of Science (DoE SC) and the competitive research program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture as follows:

$1.63 billion cut from the FY 2010 level of $31 billion – which would leave the NIH budget at $29.4 billion in FY 2011 (the same level as 2008). The $1.63 billion cut is divided among several accounts within the NIH budget:
  • Eliminates the Global AIDS Fund transfer: -$300 million
  • Eliminates the Project BioShield Special Reserve Fund transfer: -$304 million
  • Buildings and Facilities: -$77.3 million
  • Non-Competing Grants inflation: -$260 million (pro-rated across all Institutes, Centers and the Office of the Director, based on the total of the projected funding levels for the non-competing research project grants in FY 2011). The FY 2010 and FY 2011 President’s budget requests included an inflationary increase of two percent for non-competing continuation awards.
  • Office of the Director Common Fund: -$48.5 million
  • General reduction: -$639.5 million (pro-rated across all Institutes, Centers and the Office of the Director).

 The language also stipulates that the Director of NIH shall:

  • Ensure that the average of the total cost of competing research project grants for all of the Institutes, Centers, and Office of the Director during fiscal year 2011 shall not exceed $400,000.
  • Ensure that NIH awards at least a total of 9,000 new and competing research grants across all Institutes, Centers and the Office of the Director (the FY 2011 President’s budget request would have funded a total of 9,052 competing research project grants). This language seems to suggest that the appropriators want NIH to fund the same number of competing grants even though the overall budget for the agency would be significantly reduced


$359 million cut from the FY 2010 level of $6.926 billion – which would leave the NSF budget at $6.567 billion in FY 2011. The $359 million cut is divided among several accounts within the NSF budget:
  • Research and Related Activities: -$150 million
  • Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction: -$62.5 million
  • Education and Human Resources: -$147 million
The bill language also stipulates that NSF shall submit a spending plan, signed by the Director, to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees within 60 days of enactment.
$893 million direct cut from the FY 2010 level of $4.904 billion plus $7.2 million rescinded from unobligated balances from prior year appropriations – which would leave the DoE SC budget at $4.017 billion in FY 2011.
The National Institute for Food and Agriculture, which funds the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), would be cut by $217.1 million compared to the FY 2010 level. AFRI would be cut by $34 million from the FY 2010 level of $262 million – leaving the budget at $228 million in FY 2011.
House floor debate on HR 1 began on February 15th and a final vote is expected by the 17th. After that, the bill will go to the Senate for consideration although the time frame for action is unclear at the moment. Both the House and Senate will be away from Washington for the President’s Day recess the week of Feb. 21st.

FASEB is rallying the research community to fight the research funding cuts proposed by the House Appropriations Committee. President William Talman sent a letter to all members of the House of Representatives opposing the cuts and urging lawmakers to vote against HR 1. In addition, FASEB issued an alert asking researchers, trainees, lab personnel and others to call their Representative to protest the cuts to the NIH budget. FASEB societies are encouraged to distribute the alert widely within the research community. It is critical that as many voices as possible tell members of the House how cuts to federal science agency budgets will have a devastating impact on their constituents!