President’s FY 2020 Budget: Give it a glance but keep walking

Budget would cut science, services, infrastructure, but add more for a wall

 The Trump administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget was released in two parts over the week of March 11 – 18, 2019. Despite confusion over exactly how big some of the cuts were --the Department of Health and Human Services said the National Institutes of Health (NIH), currently funded at $39 billion, would be cut by $4.5 billion; the Office of Management and Budget said the cut was $5.7 billion-- budget experts in Congress and Washington observers were not inclined to expend much effort to make the math add up. The President’s budget proposal was almost universally panned, and it is unlikely to exert much influence over Congress as the House and Senate Budget Committees begin to write their own 2020 funding blueprint. 

However, even a budget with little influence provides information that Washington policymakers can use. It tells you about priorities, economic assumptions, and programs on the chopping block.  That’s why we at the American Psychological Association (APA) never ignore the President’s budget.

Highlights of the President’s proposal are:

  • Cuts the NIH by over 13% in FY 2020.

  • Cuts the National Science Foundation (NSF) by 12% in FY 2020.

  • Cuts the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by 17.6% in FY 2020; cuts grow to 33.8% after ten years.

  • Cuts the Environmental Protection Agency by 33% in FY 2020 and by 45% over ten years.

  • Cuts the National Aeronautic and Space Administration by 22% over ten years.

  • Cuts Medicare funding by about 10% over 10 years, despite a projected 44% increase in beneficiaries by 2030.

  • Reduces Medicaid funding by 5% over 10 years and converts it into a system of block grants with per-capita caps.

  • Repeals the Affordable Care Act, including exchanges, marketplace subsidies, and Medicaid expansion.

  • Cuts Head Start by 17% over ten years after holding its budget steady for 2020.

  • Eliminates Public Service Loan Forgiveness for new borrowers.

  • Cuts discretionary defense spending from $647 billion to $576 billion, but raises defense spending overall by increasing the Overseas Contingency Operations account from $69 billion to $165 billion to circumvent the budget caps.  

  • Proposes $8.6 billion for construction of walls or other barriers across the southern border.

  • Cuts transportation, a key infrastructure indicator, by a net $286 billion over ten years.

Most of these cuts are unlikely to be enacted. APA and other scientific organizations are advocating for a $2.5 billion increase for NIH in FY 2020 and a $1 billion increase for NSF, and the Appropriations Committees are encouraging.

Still, for these and other funding increases to be feasible, Congress must enact a budget agreement that raises the spending caps that were put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011. The last budget agreement simply allowed more federal borrowing, but earlier agreements to raise the caps were ‘paid for’ by raising some revenue. Without raising the caps, there remains extraordinary pressure on current levels of funding.

Every year since 2014, Congress has approved a budget agreement that raises the spending caps but there is no agreement yet for 2020. So APA is advocating for Congress to #raisethecaps.

We will share more information about the federal budget and appropriations bills throughout the spring and summer as that legislation is drafted and debated. For the latest, please follow us on Twitter: @APA, @APAScience.

Partial government shutdown impacts psychological science

What does it mean for those seeking research grants?

As you have no doubt heard, parts of the federal government currently lack appropriations and are shut down.  Thankfully for many psychological scientists, this does not include the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as most of the Department of Health and Human Services was funded and given its FY2019 budget in September 2018.  So despite what you may have heard or read on social media, NIH is open and operational, accepting proposals and awarding grants.

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Developmental milestones – The ABCD study comes of age

Psychologists play pivotal role in landmark study.

The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study is an ambitious project to image the brains of more than 10,000 nine- and ten-year-old children and follow their physical, cognitive and emotional development for ten years through early adulthood.   Brain magnetic resonance imaging [PDF, 3.1MB] (MRI), both structural and functional, will be conducted at baseline and biannually throughout the course of the study.  The study recently completed enrollment and that milestone was celebrated this fall at the study’s third annual meeting in La Jolla, CA. The study is being led by psychologists Sandra Brown and Terry Jernigan from the ABCD Coordinating Center at the University of California San Diego and across 21 additional sites nationwide.  Twenty-seven of the 39 Principal Investigators are psychologists.

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Q&A with Elizabeth Albro of the Institute of Education Sciences

A conversation with the new Commissioner of the IES National Center for Education Research. 

As the newly appointed Commissioner of the National Center for Education Research (NCER) within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), psychologist Elizabeth Albro is no stranger to education research.   Albro has been at IES, the research arm of the Department of Education, for more than 15 years.  NCER, one of the two research centers at IES, supports rigorous research that addresses the nation's most pressing education needs, from early childhood to adult education.

Albro spoke with Craig Fisher, of the American Psychological Association’s Science Government Relations Office, about her new role, as well as how education research has evolved, the contributions that psychologists have made, and why scientists should consider engaging in public service.

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President signs appropriations bill for Departments of Health and Human Services, Education and Defense

Solid increases enacted for health and defense research

The president has signed into law the nearly $800 billion “minibus” bill that funds the Departments of HHS, Education and Defense, along with the Continuing Resolution which included the seven remaining funding bills the House and Senate had not passed. This was done with two days to spare before Fiscal Year 2019 begins on October 1. You can see colorful details of this spending below courtesy of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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More than ever, our government needs scientists in its midst

The potential of the APA Executive Branch Science Fellowship to influence policy in the short- and long-term.

By Amanda M. Dettmer

Dr. Dettmer is an Associate Research Scientist at the Yale Child Study Center in New Haven, CT.

The impact of a child’s early environment on later social, cognitive, and behavioral development is well understood in the context of parenting and caregiving. My own research in this area, relying on nonhuman primate models, has shed light on the influences of parenting interactions and early social environments on subsequent cognition, social rank, and chronic stress

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