Congress Finalizes FY 2014 Budgets

Facing a mid-January deadline, Congress managed to finalize omnibus legislation that sets funding levels for federal agencies and programs, including research at the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, NASA, and the VA. President Obama signed the bill into law on January 17, 2014.

Moving beyond the impasse that led to a partial government shutdown in October 2013, Congress approved the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2013 in December. The BBA established an overall spending level of $1.012 trillion. This reversed some of the funding cuts required under the 2011 Budget Control Act, enabling appropriators to increase funding for priority programs without the threat of sequestration.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be funded at $29.9 billion in FY 2014, an increase of $1 billion over the FY 2013 post-sequester level. This is expected to enable the NIH to fund 385 additional research studies and trials in FY 2014. New funds were provided for high-profile priority programs including the Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative and research into Alzheimer’s disease.

The legislation also directs the NIH to continue support in FY 2014 for the Office of Science Education and several ongoing programs, including Science Education Partnership Awards (SEPA). The SEPA program establishes critical connections between active researchers and K–12 educational partners. A government-wide realignment of STEM education programs that was included in the President’s budget request had eliminated funding for K-12 programming at the NIH.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) will have a budget of $7.17 billion, an increase of $287 million over the FY 2013 post-sequester level. This is expected to allow the NSF to support an additional 780 competitive grants in FY 2014.

NASA will receive $17.6 billion, $781 million more than the FY 2013 post-sequester level.

Medical and prosthetic research at the VA is funded at $585 million, an increase of $3 million over the FY 2013 post-sequester level.