Congress Passes FY 2013 Funding Bills

On March 26, 2013, President Obama signed into law a package of legislation (H.R. 933) that will fund federal programs through the end of fiscal year (FY) 2013, including research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA and Medical and Prosthetic Research at the VA. With Members of Congress unable to reach a compromise on the twelve individual bills that fund the federal government annually, H.R. 933 extended the FY 2012 funding levels through the remainder of the year for most agencies, subject to a 5.1% reduction due to sequestration. The legislation added small increases for some agencies, including the NIH and NSF, but did not reverse cuts in effect due to sequestration, leaving most agencies with a net decrease in their operating budgets.

In addition to extending funding levels for the remainder of the fiscal year, H.R. 933 contains a troubling provision that prohibits the NSF from funding political science research “except for research projects that the Director of the National Science Foundation certifies as promoting national security or the economic interests of the United States.” The social and behavioral sciences at NSF and other agencies are a frequent target for legislators who seek to eliminate those programs on the grounds that they represent a waste of taxpayer resources. 



FY 2013 level (before sequestration)

Operating budget (after 5.1% reduction due to sequester)


$30.7 billion

$29.2 billion


$7.25 billion

$6.8 billion


$17.5 billion

$16.65 billion


$582 million

VA programs not subject to sequester