On June 15 and 22, the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees voted to allocate topline discretionary funding totals to their 12 subcommittees. This initial, yet critically important, step in the annual appropriations process must occur before individual spending bills can be drafted and debated.
In the House, allocations to the subcommittees, which the Committee approved by a vote of 33 to 27, are $119 billion below the nondefense cap that Congress and the White House agreed to as part of the recently enacted debt limit law (Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023). In the Senate, the Committee voted 15-13 to approve allocations consistent with the nondefense and defense caps that were agreed to in the debt ceiling law.
What does this mean for Federal agencies that directly and indirectly support the population sciences?
- Within their jurisdiction, the House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittees approve funding for agencies important to PAA, including the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Health Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Institute of Education Sciences. There is a $48 billion difference between the House ($147.1 billion) and Senate ($195.2 billion) allocations for this bill, and both subcommittees’ allocations are well below their FY 2023 levels. Given the Senate allocation is higher, PAA expects the Senate FY 2024 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill will recommend more generous funding levels overall.
- The Commerce, Science, Justice (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee, which is responsible for funding the Census Bureau, National Science Foundation, and Bureau of Justices Statistics among other federal agencies, received a slightly higher allocation in the Senate ($69.6 billion) than its House counterpart ($58.6 billion). While the Senate CJS allocation is $11 billion more than the House number, both numbers are below what the subcommittees received in FY 2023. As a result, the CJS subcommittees have less overall funding to distribute to agencies under their jurisdiction.
The House and Senate Appropriations have begun consideration or “mark up” of some FY 2024 appropriations bills. The committees anticipate action will occur on the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education and CJS bills by the end of July with the prospect of either bill being debated on the House and/or Senate floors before the current fiscal year ends on September 30, 2023. The PAA Office of Government and Public Affairs will issue alerts to activate population scientists if amendments are offered during floor consideration in either chamber that would reduce funding or otherwise adversely impact the population sciences.
At this stage, the endgame remains unclear given the drastically different approaches that the House and Senate are taking towards the FY 2024 appropriations process. The new fiscal year begins October 1, which suggests that a continuing resolution (CR) will likely be needed to keep the government open until the FY 2024 process can be completed.