Advocacy Update

Effect of government shutdown on grants and impending threats from sequestration

More than 200 NIH review committees were canceled and more than 11,000 proposals were affected by the government shutdown.

By Kelly Dunn, PhD

Effect of the Government Shutdown on NIH

More than 200 NIH review committees were canceled and more than 11,000 proposals were affected by the government shutdown. NIH has issued revised guidance on the resumption of NIH extramural activities following the shutdown that states it is working hard to reschedule the review meetings so that as many applications as possible will be eliigible for funding consideration during the January 2014 council meetings. These reviews are being made possible by the numerous NIH staff and peer reviewers who have volunteered their services to reschedule and attend these meetings, for which we are all grateful.

Threats from Sequestration Are Not Over 1

Sequestration is often discussed as a single event that took effect over the past year but is now ending. In reality sequestration, which was enacted by the Budget Control Act of 2011, authorizes mandated budget cuts that will reduce more than $1 trillion from the national budget from FY2013 to FY2021. The impact of sequestration on the American public this past year was actually more mild than originally intended, thanks to the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 that reduced the magnitude of the FY2013 sequester by $24 billion and delayed its state date from January to March 2013. However the FY2013 sequester was certainly not a minor event; it mandated approximately $80 billion dollars in reductions from discretionary and spending programs. In terms of research, the FY2013 sequester prevented 640 otherwise competitive research grants from being funded. Yet, the FY2014 sequester may have even larger consequences for both the American public and research funding. In FY2014, the sequester will transition from pre-specified automatic reductions to requiring congressional appropriators to identify where the reductions will occur. These appropriators will be tasked with reducing $103.9 billion from the federal FY2014 budget, split equally (50/50) between defense and non-defense programs. Congressional Democrats and Republicans remain staunchly divided over the nature of those cuts, suggesting that numerous publically-funded programs may face uncertain futures.

This mandatory process could be halted by a recently formed budget conference, which was established during negotiations for the end of the government shutdown. Conference members met on Oct. 30 to begin working towards a budget that meets both the House and Senate's expectations, and are expected to meet again mid-November to identify budget reductions that will replace the FY2014 sequester. A consensus has to be reached by Dec. 13 to enable the Appropriations Committee to complete their necessary tasks by the impending Jan. 15 deadline. If no deal is reached at this time, the FY2014 sequestor will begin.

APA is one of 3,200 national, state, and local organizations who have formed a coalition titled NDD United. This coalition has produced a report titled "Faces of Austerity: How Budgets Cuts Have Made Us Sicker, Poorer, and Less Secure", to persuade congress to work together to find a solution to the budget crisis and end the sequestration. NDD United is encouraging all concerned individuals to email and/or tweet the report to your congress men and women.

Stay informed of the actions of the APA Science Government Relations Office via their website.

1Specific information regarding the federal budget is available via a dedicated budget blog provided by the APA Science Government Relations Office .

To learn more about the history of the APA Science Government Relations Office advocacy efforts, please review their advocacy archive.