As you have likely heard, this week House and Senate negotiators unveiled a compromise package containing 11 of the 12 outstanding fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations bills. The "CRomnibus," as it is being called given that it takes on the characteristics of both an omnibus bill and a continuing resolution (CR), narrowly passed the House of Representatives last night and is expected to pass the Senate by week's end. President Obama has stated that he will sign the package, thereby completing the FY 2015 appropriations process nearly three months into the new fiscal year. A two-day CR was enacted last night before the midnight deadline to provide extra time for the Senate to debate and pass the measure and get it to the President's desk.
A few highlights:
- The bill is free of language specifically targeting cuts to social science programs, which is a major win for social and behavioral science advocates who worked tirelessly this year to defend these programs.
- The bill reverses the so-called "Poe Amendment" that was added to the House Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill earlier in the year and would have made the American Community Survey (ACS) voluntary. The bill maintains the ACS as mandatory.
- Most of the federal agencies important to the COSSA community received flat funding in FY 2015, although a few agencies, including the National Science Foundation (2.4%) and the National Institutes of Health (0.5%), saw small increases. In a few cases budgets were reduced, such as at the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
I invite you to peruse COSSA's full analysis of the spending package for details on agencies and accounts that fund social and behavioral science research.
Completion of the FY 2015 appropriations process will allow the new 114th Congress to start off 2015 with a clean slate. Attention will now turn to the FY 2016 appropriations process, which will kick off as early as February with the release of the President's budget request to Congress.