Created by on 10/6/2011 12:00:00 AM

As fiscal year (FY) 2011 drew to a close, fiscally conservative members of the House of Representatives sent a clear signal to their leaders that the budget battles that consumed Capitol Hill this summer were not over. On September 21st, nearly all Democrats and 48 Republicans voted against H J Resolution 79, a non-controversial “continuing resolution” (CR) to keep federal agencies operating while work continues on the FY 2012 spending bills. The rare defeat on the House floor sent House leaders scrambling to develop an alternative measure amid criticism from Republicans who were unhappy that the CR set the overall spending level at $1.043 trillion, the amount agreed upon in the Budget Control Act (Public Law 112-25). They had wanted the temporary spending agreement to take a tougher stance on reining in federal spending. A dispute over disaster relief spending for the Federal Emergency Management Agency was another factor that helped defeat the CR. The House narrowly passed (219-203) a slightly revised CR (HR 2608) just prior to adjourning for a previously scheduled week-long recess.     
On September 26th, the Senate approved an amended version of HR 2608 by a vote of 79-12. This version continues federal funding through November 18, 2011 at the $1.043 trillion rate. However, because the House had left Washington for the scheduled recess, the Senate also passed by voice vote a second CR (HR 2017) to keep the government funded through October 4th. The House approved HR 2017 by unanimous consent on September 29th and passed the revised Senate version of HR 2608 by a vote of 352-66 on October 4th.
In addition to continuing funding for federal agencies, HR 2608 also provides another extension for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer programs that expired on September 30th. Although the House and Senate have been in intense negotiations to reach a deal on a comprehensive re-authorization bill, the talks have broken down due to continued disagreement over a number of issues, including whether to increase the SBIR set-aside from 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent (as proposed in the Senate but rejected by the House). FASEB supports with the House position and is opposed to increasing the set-aside because doing so would reduce the amount of funding available for competitive, investigator-initiated research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and other science agencies. The SBIR extension in HR 2608 would continue the program through November 18th as well.