What PAA Likes in the FY2016 Omnibus Bill
In the wee hours of December 16, 2015, appropriators in Congress finally introduced a comprehensive spending bill (known as an omnibus appropriations bill) to fund the federal government through the remainder of Fiscal Year 2016. The earlier Bipartisan Budget Act agreement set the stage by freeing up spending authority to avoid deep sequestration cuts; the omnibus enacts the actual funding allocations for every federal agency and program. On Friday, December 18, 2015, President Obama signed the massive bill into law.
In two significant respects, the overall picture that has emerged from the FY 2016 Omnibus appropriations bill is very positive: first, nearly every agency of interest to the PAA received an increase over FY 2015 funding levels; and second, the final bill did not include problematic report language, including provisions that would have adversely affected the American Community Survey and the National Science Foundation Social, Behavioral and Economic Directorate. Here are the relevant highlights:
The Bureau received $1.3 billion, an overall increase of $282 million over FY 2015; this figure is also substantially above the initial recommendation of both the House and Senate. However, the final figure is about $130 million below the Administration’s FY 2015 request. Significantly, the omnibus bill did not include language from the House bill that would have made the American Community Survey (ACS) a voluntary survey.
National Institutes of Health
NIH received $32 billion, an overall increase of $2 billion over FY 2015. Within that amount, NICHD received an increase of roughly $50 million; the National Institute on Aging received an increase of approximately $400 million. Other programs singled out for increases within the NIH portfolio are the Precision Medicine Initiative, Alzheimer’s disease research, and the BRAIN initiative.
National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation received $7.46 billion, an increase of nearly $120 million over FY 2015. The Social, Behavioral and Economic (SBE) Directorate will not see an increase, however, as the omnibus measure includes language that essentially limits the SBE to FY 2015 funding levels. Nonetheless, this, too, represents a victory in that the omnibus does not include language adopted by the House that would have singled out and imposed a significant cut on the SBE and the Geo sciences directorates.
Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics received a funding allocation of $609 million, an increase of roughly $17 million over FY2015, although it is $24 million less than the Administration request, which had taken into account the impact of inflation over time. However, after years of no increases for BLS and the prospect of potential programmatic cuts, this outcome is a positive development.
Institute for Education Science
The omnibus granted IES a $44 million increase in FY 2016 over FY 2015, for an overall level of $618 million. The funding allocation for the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is $261 million, or a roughly $29 million increase.
National Center for Health Statistics
The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) received $160.4 million. This level—a $5 million increase over the FY15 level—will allow the agency to maintain its critical activities and will support states in their continued implementation of electronic death registration systems (EDRS) to enhance the timeliness and quality of death data used both in public health and in fraud prevention.
The chart below summarizes the final funding levels in FY 2016 in comparison to FY 2015 levels and the original (pre-Bipartisan Budget Act agreement) recommendations from the House and Senate.
|FY 2015 Level||FY 2016
|FY 2016 House Recommendation||FY 2016 Senate Recommendation||Final Omnibus Funding Level|
*Overall NSF received an increase; however, language was included restricting funding for the SBE Directorate to the FY2015 level.