Congress Averts Government Shutdown, Passes Short-Term Continuing Resolution

Just hours before a potential shutdown of the federal government, Congress passed, and the President signed, a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) that keeps the government operating. The CR was necessary because Congress has been unable to pass the regular twelve Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 appropriations bills before the start of the fiscal year on October 1. The House passed the bill by a vote of 335-91, and the Senate by a vote of 88-9.

The 45-day CR, which expires November 17, funds all government operations at the same level as in 2023. Congressional leaders hope to use the time to finalize work on the regular appropriations bills, whether passing them individually or in a larger Omnibus package.

Four of the regular appropriations bills were passed last week by the House, sending them to the Senate for consideration.  While the Labor-HHS bill, which funds the National Institutes of Health (NIH) isn’t one of them, the Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations bill, which funds the DOD’s Vision Research Program (VRP), was part of that group of bills.

The House LHHS Appropriations subcommittee marked up its FY2024 bill in July that cuts NIH funding $2.8 billion compared with the final FY2023 spending levels, or 6%. The National Eye Institute (NEI) would be funded at a level of $896.5 million, the same amount as in FY2023. The full Committee has yet to act on the bill. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its FY2024 LHHS  spending bill also in July, which funds the NIH at a level of $47.8 billion, an increase of $943 million over FY2023. The bill also funds the NEI at $896.5 million.

NAEVR remains concerned about the use of CRs, because under a CR the National Eye Institute (NEI) cannot fund new grants, potentially forcing investigators to seek bridge or philanthropic funding to keep their laboratories working. As part of AEVR’s Emerging Vision Scientists (EVS) Advocacy Day September 21, the early-stage investigators shared this message with their elected representatives.