Now that Members of Congress have wrapped up their August Congressional recess and are returning to Washington DC, eyes are turning to the yet-to-be-resolved federal budget for fiscal year 2013. We want to use this opportunity to tell you more about the process, where things stand, and what it means for the brain tumor community.
The current fiscal year (FY2012) ends on September 30, 2012. Because a new spending bill for FY2013 has not yet been passed, the government faces a shutdown after that date. However, before Congress left for August recess, we learned that leadership reached a deal that will continue funding through March of 2013 at levels set by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Both Chambers are expected to vote on and pass the measure, called a continuing resolution, by the end of next week.
The Fiscal Cliff
You’ve probably heard talk of the looming fiscal cliff. Or maybe you’ve heard the term sequestration used when discussing the federal budget. The sequester is the result of the failed efforts of Congress’s bipartisan budget supercommittee, which was tasked last year with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction. When the committee failed to agree on where that money should come from, it triggered an automatic across-the-board spending reduction of $1.2 trillion. The cuts, which apply to defense and other domestic programs, are set to take effect in January if Congress does not act to prevent them.
So what does it all mean and what is at stake here for the brain tumor community? As our advocates know, the budget process and its outcome is critical to brain tumor research, as the largest funder of brain tumor research in the country, the National Institutes of Health, receives its funding through appropriations in the federal budget. If Congress continues to move the federal budget forward with continuing resolutions that only maintain level funding, NIH will receive less than the $32.7 billion that we and other members of the One Voice Against Cancer coalition have been advocating for, resulting in a budget that does not keep pace with inflation and is squeezed tighter every year. Even more troubling, if the sequester takes effect, NIH will receive a budget cut of up to 8%, resulting in less funding for critical research, slower progress, and potentially fewer breakthroughs.
In either scenario, our voices and our personal stories are essential to efforts to protect and support NIH. We’ll keep you informed of the latest updates as things move forward and let you know when it is the right time for us to weigh in as a community. In the meantime, be sure to write to your Members of Congress about why NIH is so important to the brain tumor community using our current NIH action.
Please let us know if you have questions about any of this by emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to working with you to protect critical brain tumor research as the budget process moves forward.