Congressional Budget Remains Uncertain Going Into 2020

The United States House of Representatives and Senate came together to pass another continuing resolution for government funding on November 21. With President Trump’s signature, a government shutdown was avoided as we headed into the Thanksgiving holiday. This four-week continuing resolution will fund the government at 2019 budget-year levels and allow Congress until December 20 to come up with a Fiscal Year 2020 budget deal.

As it stands, the U.S. House has passed a bill that provides $41.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an increase of $2 billion from FY2019. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) funding passed by the House was for $6.44 billion — a $310 million increase.

The Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies proposed a draft 2020 spending bill that would increase NIH funding by $3 billion to a total of $42.1 billion. While this proposal aims $1 billion higher than the bill passed by the House, this committee proposal allocates less for the NCI. The Senate proposal would give the NCI $6.15 billion — nearly $300 million less than the House legislation.

The next three weeks promise to be busy as the House and Senate must come to an agreement on the 12 annual spending bills to avoid the need for another continuing resolution. With the impeachment hearings creating even more partisan division, finding the common ground to pass a 2020 budget for all 12 subcommittee spending bills would be a holiday miracle.