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President Signs Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 That Extends FY2018 Government Funding to March 23 and Increases Discretionary Spending Caps for FY2018 and 2019

Legislative Update
February 12, 2018

On Friday, February 9, after approval by both the Senate (vote of 71-28) and the House (vote of 240-186) of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (H.R. 1892), the President signed the bill into law, ending a very brief government shutdown. The agreement extends the previous Continuing Resolution (CR) that funded the government in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 until February 8 to March 23, during which time appropriators will be drafting the twelve annual spending bills under the revised discretionary spending caps in the two-year budget framework within the legislation that eliminated sequestration, as well as provided emergency supplemental funding for disaster relief and suspended the debt ceiling until March 1, 2019.

As part of the agreement, Congressional leaders publicly committed to setting aside at least $1 billion of the new funding to provide an increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in each fiscal years 2018 and 2019. Because appropriators will implement the commitment when they draft the upcoming spending bills, they also will have the opportunity to provide a potentially greater increase for NIH within the confines of the Subcommittee’s overall spending allocation for each of those years. The Senate Appropriations Committee had previously approved in its FY2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) spending bill an NIH increase of $2 billion to $36.1 billion and a National Eye Institute (NEI) increase of $26 million to $759 million.

NAEVR has issued a statement praising the increase in discretionary spending caps and expressing appreciation that the deal acknowledges the NIH as a critical national priority. The statement also notes, “As Congress turns to the forthcoming FY2018 omnibus, we look forward to working with lawmakers to ensure an appropriation of at least $36.1 billion for the NIH and $759 million for the NEI, in addition to dedicated funding through the 21st Century Cures Act and other funding devoted to specific priorities. Ensuring sustained and predicable funding to grow NIH’s base budget not only facilitates increases to Institute and Centers (I/Cs), such as the NEI, but also enables NIH to capitalize on the full spectrum of research that saves lives and improves the quality of life of all Americans.”

In its statement, NAEVR acknowledged that in 2018 the NEI celebrates the 50th anniversary of its creation by Congress in 1968, and that within hours of the passage of H.R. 1892, vision researchers participating in an Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Advocacy Day were thanking Members for increasing the caps and urging NIH and NEI funding increases in FY2018 and FY2019.