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Congress Passes Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 That Funds Vision Trauma Research at $10 M

Legislative Update
January 16, 2014

Today, the Senate passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 by a vote of 72-26, following House passage the previous day on a vote of 359-67. The $1.01 trillion omnibus spending bill, which finalizes Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 appropriations, was passed just before a three-day Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government through January 18 was to expire—Congress passed an extension earlier in the week to the January 15 deadline that the previous CR had set to enable legislators to act on the omnibus bill. The bill was developed after Congressional passage on December 18 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 which established discretionary spending caps for FY2014 and 2015, eliminating $63 billion in sequestration cuts in those fiscal years.

Within the Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations, Peer Reviewed Vision Research is funded at $10 million, which underwrites the Vision Trauma Research Program (VTRP). This is the second year at this level—due to NAEVR’s advocacy, Congress funded the VTRP in FY2013 at $10 million, the highest level ever.

Although the FY2013 level was subject to an eight percent sequester cut that reduced its amount to $9.2 million, the final funding amount announced by DOD in its October 2013 Program Announcement was $14.5 million due to transfers of funding from other DOD programs, such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) research, as a result of the quality and responsiveness of vision researcher submissions. DOD is currently reviewing pre-proposals that were due by late November 2013. NAEVR is awaiting word from DOD as to the final FY2014 VTRP funding amount (if it is again increased by internal DOD transfers) and whether it will be added to the FY2013 amount and used in the awards process for submissions currently under review.

The vision community will have received $95 million from the DOD in extramural research funding since FY2001 with the addition of the FY2014 appropriation, $50 million of which since the VTRP was created by Congress as a distinct budget line in FY2009 DOD appropriations.

NAEVR’s 2012 Value of Defense-Related Vision Research Brochure details the history of the VTRP, presents the DOD-identified vision research gaps, and features summaries of presentations made by previous awardees in Capitol Hill briefings. It also highlights NAEVR’s 2012 Costs of Military Eye Injury study, which estimated total costs from 2000-2010 at $25.1 billion.