Congress Finalizes FY 2015 Budgets

Facing a mid-December deadline, Congress finalized 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 December 16, 2014. The final bill combined fiscal year (FY) 2015 funding for all government programs and agencies with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security, which will operate under a continuing resolution (CR) at FY 2014 funding levels through February. Because the bill combined CR funding with an omnibus it was termed a “CROmnibus”.

Following the partial government shutdown in October 2013, Congress approved the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA). The BBA established an overall spending level and reversed some of the funding cuts required under the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA), enabling appropriators to increase funding for priority programs without the threat of sequestration. However, the BBA only suspended the budget caps through FY 2015, which means that the stricter spending limits will again be in place in FY 2016 unless Congress acts to prevent it.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be funded at $30.08 billion in FY 2015, an increase of $150 million over the FY 2014 level. The bill provides $25 million in additional funds for the Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative, bringing the total for the program to $65 million.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) will have a budget of $7.344 billion, an increase of $172 million over the FY 2014 level. This is expected to allow the NSF to support an additional 350 competitive grants in FY 2015.

NASA will receive $18.0 billion, $364 million more than the FY 2014 level.

Medical and prosthetic research at the VA is funded at $589 million, an increase of $3 million over the FY 2014 level.