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Congress Passes Continuing Resolution for Remainder of Fiscal Year 2013, Averting Possible Government Shutdown

Legislative Update
March 21, 2013

On March 21, Congress approved a six-month funding measure, averting the chance of a federal government shutdown next week. By a vote of 318 to 109, the House of Representatives passed the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013, H.R. 933, which finalizes spending through the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2013. The Senate passed the bill on March 20 by a vote of 73-26. It now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign the measure. [Update: President Obama signed the bill into law on March 26.]

This action assures that the government will stay open when the current six-month Continuing Resolution (CR) that funds the government at the FY2012 level expires on March 27.

Although H.R. 933 includes a $71 million increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it would still be subject to the 5.1 percent sequester cut, resulting in an NIH cut of $1.6 billion to its FY2012 funding level of $30.7 billion netting $29 billion. The National Eye Institute (NEI) cut of $36 million to its funding level of $703 million nets $667 million. For NEI, this could potentially result in about 90 new grants not getting funded, any one of which could hold the promise for saving or restoring vision. [The NIH issued initial sequester guidance on February 21, followed by additional guidance on March 4.]

For the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Vision Trauma Research Program (VTRP), the news is better. Since H.R. 933 contains the FY2013 Defense bill language passed in July 2012 that increased VTRP funding from $5 million to $10 million, the program would receive that amount, minus the 8 percent sequestration cut to defense programs, netting $9.2 million.