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.

National Institutes of Health. Congress provided NIH with a $2 billion increase. This is the fourth year in a row the NIH budget has been increased by at least that amount. For FY 2019, NIH receives a better than five percent boost, and while much of the increase is targeted to specific programs, every individual institute’s budget is increased by at least 2.6 percent. Psychologists should note:

  • Alzheimer’s research receives an increase of $425 million, bringing total spending to $2.3 billion. The National Institute on Aging would thus get the most substantial of all the institutes’ increases, a jump of 19.8 percent.

  • The Cancer Moonshot research initiative is allocated $400 million, an increase of $100 million.

  • The agreement includes $1.3 billion total for research into opioid addiction, alternatives, and pain management.

  • BRAIN Initiative funding rises to $429 million, matching House and Senate figures. Precision medicine funding rises to $376 million.

  • Conferees rejected the recommendation from the Administration's FY 2019 budget to consolidate three other federal agencies within NIH (including the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality).

The AAAS has developed a useful chart showing the past twenty years of NIH funding, highlighting a few of NIH’s 27 institutes and centers.  

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With continued funding increases beginning in 2016, the NIH is now $16.1 million above FY 2013 sequestration levels in inflation-adjusted dollars.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While CDC facilities received a large one-time boost in last year’s omnibus, this bill gives CDC programs a modest 1.6 percent increase. And yet, final CDC funding is 29.6 percent or $1.7 billion above the Administration’s budget request.  Congress added $5 million to assess the infectious disease consequences of the national opioid epidemic. The bill also provides level funding of $210 million for CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, which had been in jeopardy. 

Institute for Education Sciences. IES in the Department of Education will receive $615 million, up $2 million over the FY 2018 enacted level.  

Department of Defense. DOD science and technology funding was boosted across all accounts and branches. Total DOD S&T funding rises by $1.1 billion above FY 2018, a 7.6 percent increase, and $2.3 billion above the Administration request (see AAAS chart below).

Defense S&T (excluding medical research) will reach its highest point in FY 2019 since FY 2006, adjusting for inflation. DOD basic research funding will likely reach an all-time high in total inflation-adjusted dollars. Basic DoD research received an eight percent or $186 million increase, with similar relative jumps across all military branches.

The bill includes an 8.2 percent increase for Defense Research Science program elements to $1.6 billion total. The Minerva Initiative  received $2 million above the request or $12.8 million total, a 25 percent increase above FY 2018 levels.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) scored an 11.7 percent increase above FY 2018 levels. That includes $30 million for the Electronics Resurgence Initiative, $40 million for artificial intelligence research, and $30 million for hypersonic weapons development and transition.

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Legislators provided $2.2 billion for Defense Health Program research, development, test, and evaluation, a 6.9 percent increase from FY 2018. The conferees added substantial funding for peer reviewed medical research across an array of disease areas, especially cancers; total funding is slightly above $1.0 billion this year.

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Science funding in this legislation is a bright spot. It would not be possible had Congress not adopted a two-year agreement to spend above the budget caps in FY 2018 and 2019.  The Budget Control Act of 2011, with its austere spending caps and sequestration provisions, remains in law, and without a temporary or permanent fix, science funding and other programs will not be so fortunate in FY 2020.  That’s why APA and fellow scientific societies will continue calling on Congress to “Raise the Caps” in the next fiscal year.