THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Bipartisan bill would reduce budget cuts for some agencies

Congress passed a 2013 spending plan this week to ease the budget pain of mandatory cuts imposed on some U.S. science funding agencies.

The bipartisan bill includes slight funding increases to the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Science Foundation to offset some effects of sequestration, the across-the-board 5.1 percent spending reductions that went into effect on March 1. The Senate approved the bill on Wednesday and the House of Representatives approved the unaltered bill on Thursday, Nature reports.

The legislation awaits final approval from President Obama when he returns from a trip to the Middle East this weekend.

"This is an enormous victory," Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), the co-author of the bill, said, according to Nature.

The NSF received $7 billion in 2012 and sequestration would cut the agency's funding to $6.79 billion in 2013. The bill would raise that funding up to $6.88 billion. Sequestration would cut the FDA's budget from $2.5 billion in 2012 to approximately $2.38 billion in 2013. The new bill would bump the funding back up to approximately $2.46 billion. The NIH stood to lose approximately $1.553 billion from its $30.7 billion in 2012, but the bill would restore $67 million to its 2013 funding.

Multiple science groups said the proposed increases would not negate the detrimental effects of the sequestration, Nature reports.

"We applaud this bipartisan gesture, but sequestration continues to cast a shadow on advancing science and innovation," Mary Woolley, the president and chief executive of Research!America, said, according to Nature.

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