A post-election "lame duck" Congress returned to Washington last week and approved an omnibus funding measure for fiscal year (FY) 2005, which began October 1. By holding overall discretionary domestic spending to last year's levels, the measure gives Spartan increases—and even some cuts—to scientific and medical research.

The $388.4-billion omnibus appropriations bill (HR 4818) approved November 20 combines the remaining nine of 13 spending measures that had not been passed before Congress adjourned in October. The measure consolidates budgets for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and most federal agencies other than the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security. The House is expected to approve a technical correction to the package today (November 24), clearing the way for President Bush's signature.

Under the compromise legislation, NIH will receive about $28.4 billion, a 2% increase of $563 million over last year. This will give most institutes...

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