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Fiscal Cliff Legislation Delays Sequestration by Two Months; NAEVR Tracks Key Appropriators in the New Congress

Legislative Update
January 4, 2013

This week, although Congress passed H.R. 8-and the President signed this legislation which averted the fiscal cliff-it just delayed sequestration by two months to March 27, 2013, which is the same date on which the Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Continuing Resolution (CR) that funds the government at the FY2012 level expires. The looming debt ceiling debate and talk of a potential partial government shutdown add a great deal of uncertainty about final FY2013 appropriations in light of these larger discussions about tax/revenue and deficit reduction. The Obama Administration has also announced a delay in issuing its proposed FY2014 budget until March (usually issues in early February) due to the uncertainty about FY2013 funding and that of out-years.

With the passing of Senator Inouye (D-HI), Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) will chair the Senate Appropriations Committee—the first woman to do so. Sen. Mikulski has had extensive experience with both National Institutes of Health (NIH) and defense appropriations, having served on the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee (which will continue to be chaired by Senator Tom Harkin, D-IA) and the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee (new chair to be announced). NAEVR has been in her office frequently, noting that there are at least ten significant vision organizations headquartered in Maryland, and will do so again as part of the February 7 ARVO Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill.

In another precedent-setting move, the House Democratic leadership has named Cong. Nita Lowey (D-NY) as the Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee. As with Sen. Mikulski, Cong. Lowey has had extensive experience on the House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee. The House Republican leadership, specifically House Appropriations Committee chair Hal Rogers (R-KY), announced last week that Cong. Jack Kingston (R-GA) would chair the House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee. A fiscal conservative and member of the Republican Study Committee (which has consistently called for an NIH cut), Cong. Kingston did support Food and Drug Administration (FDA) funding increases despite tight budgets when he previously chaired the House Agriculture and Rural Development Appropriations Subcommittee. For defense-related vision research, NAEVR will continue to work with Cong. C.W. “Bill” Young (R-FL), who was given a waiver from term limits to continue chairing the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.