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Proposed US Spending Bill Boosts Science Funding

NIH, NSF, and the DOE’s Office of Science will be among the agencies with budget increases if the omnibus bill is passed.

By Shawna Williams | March 22, 2018

US capitol buildingFLICKR, ARCHITECT OF THE CAPITOLUpdate (March 23): The Senate and House of Representatives have both passed the spending bill, and President Trump is expected to sign it into law.

A $1.3-trillion spending agreement reached yesterday (March 21) includes funding increases for most US science funding agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), and NASA. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill today.

“Research!America applauds the unprecedented boost in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and significant increases for other federal health agencies in FY18 to accelerate medical progress, public health and scientific innovation,” Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley says in a statement. “The omnibus bill is a positive step forward in strengthening our global competitiveness and our nation's commitment to research and public health.”

The bill, which covers federal spending for the current fiscal year, would increase the NIH budget by $3 billion over 2017, to $37 billion, Nature reports. NIH’s Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative and the precision-medicine focused All of Us research project would both see increases. NSF funds would increase by nearly $300 million, to $7.8 billion; NASA’s budget would rise to $20.1 billion; and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science budget would rise to $6.2 billion.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would see an increase of $1.1 billion, to $8.3 billion. The Hill reports that Republican leaders have agreed to clarify that the CDC is not prohibited from funding research on gun violence in this bill. Previous spending bills have included a provision that has been interpreted as barring the use of federal funds to conduct such research.

See “Proposed Federal Budget Slashes Funds to EPA, CDC

The bill is, for the most part, more generous to science agencies than a proposal put forth last month by President Donald Trump’s administration. For example, that proposal would have shrunk the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by approximately 25 percent, but the new bill keeps the agency’s funding flat.

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