Last week, Americans throughout the country cast their votes in the 2014 midterm elections. The 114th Congress will be controlled by a 53 Republicans, 2 Independents and 44 Democrats in the Senate. Due to the close results, Louisiana will hold a run off race in December. In the House, the Republican party increased their majority by 12 members for a total of 244 to 184 Democratic seats.
What does this mean? The leadership of the Senate will shift with Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., expected to become majority leader and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., will become the minority leader. Sen. McConnell has expressed an interest in working together and his opposition to shutting down the federal government again. Also, in 2015 the Senate committees will be chaired by Republicans. According to Politico, the House Democrats are expected to lose seats on some committees, “(which) means the party will lose some serious sway in the Capitol – and a shrinking number of committee seats is the most public manifestation in that loss of power.”
What happens next? The House and Senate will hold elections this week to determine the leaders of the party. Both parties are expected to keep their current top leaders. After these elections, Sen. McConnell stated he would like to “clear the decks,” and urged Congress to approve some outstanding legislation before the 113th Congress adjourns at the end of the year. This means a bill funding the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year will be introduced and hopefully approved before the current continuing resolution expires on December 11, 2014.
2015 and Beyond With a newly elected Congress, AADR and our partners will be working throughout the year educating elected officials about the importance of biomedical research and urging them to provide sustained, predictable and increased funding for the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. As always, with a new Congress there is a potential for increased attention to fiscal constraint and as such it will be more important than ever for AADR science advocates to stay informed about developments and engage with their members of Congress at home and in Washington, DC to communicate the value of your research. It is unclear how the 114th Congress will address the continued austere federal budget, but we can hope that through our advocacy, our voice will be heard and progress will be made.
This week AADR sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to approve an omnibus appropriations bill when they return to Washington, DC on November 12th. Currently, the federal government is operating on a continuing resolution through December 11, 2014. In the letter AADR states the following:
“Without an omnibus appropriations bill, funding levels for NIH and NIDCR would decline even further, slowing our members’ efforts to develop point of care diagnostics to improve screening for diabetes, heart disease, lung cancer, breast cancer and pancreatic cancer; unveil the genetic factors causing birth defects; and create therapies to prevent the progression of oral cancer. Without a predictable, sustained and robust investment in NIH the future of projects like these is highly problematic. Austerity measures–whether through sequestration or an across-the-board-cut in a continuing resolution–are counterproductive and place an enormous burden on the biomedical research enterprise by slowing the progress of promising research that could one day save the lives and improve the health of all Americans.
The continued budget uncertainty further exacerbates frustration among our members. Why should a student pursue a career in the United States when other countries are investing heavily in research? Why would an established researcher continue on after hitting a funding wall? It is up to you to alleviate their concerns, encourage them to pursue promising research in the United States and give scientists throughout the country the assurance that Congress values the National Institutes of Health by approving an omnibus appropriations bill.”
What can you do? Help amplify our message and send an email to your members of Congress urging them to enact an omnibus appropriations bill as soon as possible.
Earlier this month the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released an announcement stating that, “NIH will issue non-competing research grant awards at a level below that indicated on the most recent Notice of Award (generally up to 90% of the previously committed level). Upward adjustments to awarded levels will be considered after FY 2015 appropriations are enacted, but NIH expects institutions to monitor their expenditures carefully during this period.” It is important to note that this policy is consistent with NIH practices when Congress approves short-term funding via a continuing resolution (CR). The current CR expires on December 11, 2014. Congress will return to work after the November election and will then decide how to fund the federal agencies for the remainder of fiscal year 2015.
Senator Harkin, D-Iowa, released a press statement urging Congress to approve an Omnibus Appropriation bill when they return from the November election. Sen. Harkin states, “We must enact an Omnibus bill that will provide sufficient resources to all of the federal agencies…We cannot afford to put the government back on autopilot, hampering the work of the CDC and agencies on the frontlines of controlling Ebola.” He also emphasizes that Congress must not allow the sequester cuts to come back next year.
Currently, the federal government is operating on a continuing resolution (CR) through December 11, 2014 at a 0.0544% below FY14 levels. In a letter to members of Congress, the Coalition for Health Funding states, “We are extremely disappointed in the breakdown of regular order in this year’s appropriations process and the resulting short-term CR. We are also concerned that funding for emergent needs has been offset by an across-the-board cut. While relatively small, this cut compounds the impact of deep cuts already taken since 2010 due to federal austerity measures including sequestration.”
AADR also strongly encourages Congress to approve an Omnibus Appropriations Bill. On October 21st, members of the AADR Government Affairs Committee will be on Capitol Hill to carry this message to their members of Congress. AADR remains concerned that without an omnibus appropriations bill, funding levels for NIH and NIDCR could slide backwards to post sequestration levels. This would greatly affect our members ability to continue and enhance promising oral health research.
Yesterday, Congress approved a short term continuing resolution (CR) (H.J. Res 124) to fund the federal government at 0.0554 percent below fiscal year 2014 levels through December 11, 2014. This legislation was overwhelming approved by a 78-22 vote in the Senate and a 319-108 vote in the House. According to CQ Healthbeat, this legislation also included a measure regarding Syria authorization, $88 million for anti-Ebola efforts and additional funding for disability claims processing at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Congress adjourned yesterday and will return home to campaign for the upcoming election. At this point, it is unclear how Congress will fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year after this CR expires. Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski D-Md. and Chairman Hal Rogers R-Ky. are pushing for an “omnibus bill” or legislation detailing specific and updated funding levels for all federal agencies. This approach would provide budget certainty for the federal government. AADR will continue to encourage Congress to prioritize funding for dental, oral and craniofacial research in the upcoming months.
Yesterday, AADR joined over 300 national organizations in support of the Rally for Medical Research. The purpose of the Rally is to call on our nation’s policymakers to make funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) a national priority and raise awareness about the importance of continued investment in medical research that leads to more progress, more hope and more lives saved.
During the lobby day, AADR led a group of advocates from New Hampshire and met with Senators Ayotte R-N.H., Representative Shea-Porter D-N.H., and staff from Senator Shaheen, D-N.H., and Representative Kuster’s D-N.H. offices. All of the elected officials agreed to make sustained and adequate funding for NIH a priority, which in turn can help to boost funding for the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR).
To help amplify our voice on Capitol Hill and carry this message to your elected officials simply click here to email Congress and urge them to increase funding for NIH and NIDCR.
This week the Democratic members of the Labor, Health and Human Services Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee unveiled their version of the fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriation bill. This legislation proposes $30.6 billion for the NIH, a $778 million increase over fiscal year 2014. This funding restores NIH to its pre-sequester level. The House Democrats also propose $404.8 million for the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, an $8.2 million increase over FY14. Importantly, the Democratic members do not intend to release report language accompanying the bill and the increased funding were provided via changes in mandatory programs or rescissions.
This legislation is viewed by many as a symbolic gesture since the Majority House Republicans have not yet released an official draft bill.
For additional information click here to read Rep. DeLauro’s, D-Conn. press release.
This month AADR joined the scientific community expressing our concern and opposition to the Conference Accountability Act of 2013 (S. 1347). If adopted this legislation would raise existing barriers and perpetuate unintended negative consequences on the ability of federal and contractor scientists to participate in scientific conferences. Unfortunately, this legislation was recently approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, but it is uncertain when or if the full Senate will consider the bill. AADR will continue to partner with organizations in opposition to S. 1347.
Last night, House Appropriations Chairman Rogers introduced a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) (H.J.Res 124) to fund the federal government at 0.0554 percent below fiscal year 2014 levels until December 11, 2014. This bill contains additional $88 million to fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Since the legislation must adhere to the budget cap level of $1.012 trillion an across the board cut of 0.0554 percent was administered to pay for additional funding included in the bill. According to a press release issued by Chairman Rogers, “This bill is clean and does not contain highly controversial provisions.”
Congress is expected to quickly approve the bill before adjourning and returning home to campaign before the November election. After the November election Congress could then either approve another short term CR through March or a yearlong CR depending on whether the Republicans gain control of the Senate. At this time, it is unclear what the final funding level for the remainder of fiscal year 2015 will be for the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) and other oral health programs. AADR will continue to update our members about these developments and advocate for increased funding for dental, oral and craniofacial research.
For additional information click here to read Chairman Rogers press release.
This week water fluoridation opponents are planning to lobby members of Congress. They intend to end community water fluoridation, ask for congressional hearings and request that Congress de-fund the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Oral Health. AADR is joining the American Dental Association and other organizations in encouraging the oral health and public health communities to send an email to members of Congress today to explain the importance of water fluoridation.
Take Action: Click here to email your member of Congress about the benefits of community water fluoridation