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Since our last update on the latest budget action on the Hill, two significant events happened late last week in Congress and at the White House.

September 16, 2012 by Ashley Bennett

Since our last update on the latest budget action on the Hill, two significant events happened late last week in Congress and at the White House. First, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a report on the potential impact of sequestration on federal agencies. Sequestration would require a reduction in government spending of $109 billion per year for nine years, beginning in January 2013.

According to the report, most defense programs relevant to global health—including global health research and development (R&D) programs at the Department of Defense—would receive a 9.4 percent cut under sequestration. Non-defense programs—including most programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the State Department, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID)—that are not exempt from cuts would receive an 8.2 percent cut.

It’s important to note that some parts of these programs’ funds are exempt from cuts. For instance, out of a total budget of $34.249 billion for the NIH in fiscal year (FY) 2013, the sequestration applies to $30.861 billion. The rest is exempt.

As for the primary agencies that fund global health and R&D programming, the report finds that:

  • The total cut to NIH would equal $2.529 billion. This would put NIH’s total funding for FY 2013 at $31.720 billion.
  • At USAID, the Global Health Programs account—the account responsible for all of USAID’s global health R&D work—would be cut by $670 million, leaving the final global health program’s funding level at $7.498 billion.
  • The FDA, which plays a key role in regulating global health products, would see a cut of $318 million, with a final funding level of $3.624 billion (not including funding from user fees).
  • The CDC would see a cut of $470 million from its overall funding, with $464 million coming from non-defense activities funding. This leaves CDC with a final funding level of $6.861 billion.
These predictions are based on current FY 2012 funding levels. Many of these agency programs are already dealing with looming cuts to their funding levels for next year under various congressional budget proposals. If FY 2013 appropriations bills in Congress reduce agencies’ funding even further, the sequestration cuts would be even steeper than what’s outlined in the OMB report.

Second, the House of Representatives late last week approved a Continuing Resolution (CR) for FY 2013, in order to keep the government running through the end of March 2013. The House approved the measure by a vote of 329-91, with 70 Republicans and 21 Democrats in opposition. The bill now moves to the Senate and is expected to pass this week.

The CR funds the government at $1.047 trillion, consistent with the Budget Control Act. It also includes a slight 0.6 percent increase across the board for all federal programs, essentially maintaining spending at current levels. The CR provides a total of $55.2 billion for International Affairs, slightly higher than the $54.9 billion current level and higher than either the House or Senate FY 2013 appropriations recommendations. House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) said that lawmakers will aim to finalize appropriations bills when they return to work after the November elections. “We intend to use the lame-duck session to the fullest extent,” he said, adding, “Just because this CR will last until March 27 of next year, we will not rest on our laurels until that time.”

About the author

Ashley BennettGHTC

Ashley Bennett is a Policy and Advocacy Officer at GHTC.