Legislative Updates

Congress Finalizes, and President Signs, Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations

Legislative Update
February 19, 2019

On February 15, President Trump signed H.J. Res. 31, legislation which finalizes Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 appropriations for those federal agencies whose funding had been in limbo since the battle over funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the construction of a border wall led to a shutdown of 9 cabinet-level federal departments, as well as many smaller agencies starting last December 22. The shutdown lasted 35 days and only ended when President Trump signed a short-term funding bill on January 25 that gave Congressional negotiators three weeks to develop compromise legislation that the President would agree to sign.

Last September, Congress had already passed a minibus FY2019 appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (LHHS) which includes funding for the National Institutes of Health/National Eye Institute (NIH/NEI), meaning that funding for research grants had not been interrupted or subject to the uncertainties that a Continuing Resolution (CR) has meant for federally-funded medical research in previous years. For FY2019, the NIH was funded at a level of $39.08 billion, an increase of $2 billion over FY2018, and the NEI was funded at a level of $796.5 million, an increase of $24.2 million.

The minibus legislation also funded the Department of Defense (DOD), including the DOD's Vision Research Program (VRP), which was funded at a level of $20 million, an increase of $5 million over the previous two fiscal years.