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House Passes Short-Term CR to Fund Government; Measure Goes to the White House

Legislative Update
October 5, 2011

Yesterday, the House passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government as Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 began on October 1 and FY2012 appropriations bills have not yet been finalized. The bill funds the government through November 18. The Senate passed the bill last week, and the measure is now cleared for President Obama to sign it. [Editor's note: President Obama signed it on October 5]

Due to Congressionally negotiated cuts to FY2012 spending that is below FY2011 spending levels, the CR imposes a 1.503 percent cut on all agency programs. For the National Eye Institute (NEI), that means a reduction of $10.5 million to a $690.3 million funding level from the FY2011 level of $700.8 million. Added to the $6.2 million reduction in FY2011 funding from FY2010, that means that NEI funding will have been reduced by $16.7 million total during the two fiscal years.

The CR reflects a compromise, with the Senate agreeing to $2.5 billion in disaster aid which does not have to be offset by spending cuts to energy-efficient and renewable energy loan guarantee programs, as was being pressed by Republicans.

The CR is necessary because the House has only passed 6 of the 12 annual appropriations bills, while the Senate has only approved one.

Looming over the appropriations process is the work of the “Super Committee,” tasked with finding major budget reductions, which is expected to issue its recommendations a few days before the CR expires. If the Super Committee members are unable to agree on a package of reductions totaling at least $1.2 trillion, automatic across-the-board budget cuts will kick in. Of those cuts, roughly half would come from defense spending, and $294 billion would be from non-defense discretionary programs, which would include the Department of Health and Human Services, which manages the National Institutes of Health. It is not clear which specific programs within each category would be cut.