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FY 2017 Funding Deal Finally Reached

The budget process that started early last year with the announcement of then-President Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget request has finally come to an end. Seven months into FY 2017, Congress has approved a comprehensive funding bill for the year. This week, the House and Senate passed the Omnibus Appropriations Act. President Trump is expected to sign it on May 5 before midnight to avoid a federal government shutdown.

Decisions on federal spending were put off repeatedly last fall to avoid funding votes during election season and to allow President Trump to weigh in on the spending measure. Ultimately, the Omnibus Appropriations Act is a reflection of negotiations between Republicans and Democrats. It does not reflect the major cuts proposed in President Trump’s “skinny budget” but does invest in White House priorities such as defense and border security.

Regarding the bill’s support for research, it funds the National Science Foundation at $7.472 billion, a nominal increase of $8.7 million over the FY 2016-enacted amount. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will see $19.653 billion, a slight bump of $368.3 million. Included in the accompanying language is encouragement to increase and strengthen partnerships between the NASA Centers and academia.

The agreement also provides $34.084 billion for National Institutes of Health activities, an increase of $2 billion, or 6.2 percent, above FY 2016—an increase that was strongly supported by Hill Republicans and Democrats. The National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) will both see an increase of $1.9 million this year, with $149.849 million allocated for each. Notably, the bill includes language that highlights the endowments’ activities with veterans and wounded warriors.

The next step is the FY 2018 budget process, which will receive more focus after the White House releases its more detailed budget proposal later this month.


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