Congress Passes, President Signs Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus

On December 29, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, a $1.7 trillion Omnibus Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Appropriations bill which combined all FY2023 spending bills into one package. The signing comes after Congress passed two short-term Continuing Resolutions that extended 2022 funding through December 30, 2022. Congress finalized the spending bill before adjourning for the year with the Senate approving the bill on December 22nd with a 68-29 vote and the House approving the bill on December 23 with a 225-201 vote.

The Omnibus provides a 10% increase in defense spending and a 5.5% increase in non-defense spending. The package includes increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Eye Institute (NEI).

The bill provides a level of $47.459 billion for NIH, a $2.5 billion increase (+5.6%) over the comparable FY 2022 level, and includes $896.549 million for NEI, an increase of $32.631 million or approximately 3.8%, which is higher than the 3.2% that had been approved in the House-passed bill earlier this year.

In addition, the bill authorizes the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) separately within the NIH and provides $1.5 billion (a $500 million or 50% increase over FY 2022) available through FY 2025 through the HHS Office of the Secretary in FY 2023. As in FY 2022, the Secretary would have the authority to transfer the funding to NIH or another HHS agency within 30 days of the bill’s enactment. The authorization would continue to require the Secretary to publish in the Federal Register within 90 days of enactment of the law a notice outlining which NIH policies ARPA-H will be exempt from, and within 180 days, to transfer the current functions of ARPA-H as currently configured to the new framework authorized in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023.

DOD Funding Update

The Omnibus also includes funding for the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Vision Research Program (VRP) at a level of $20 million, the 5th year that the VRP is funded at that level.  Almost none of the DOD medical research programs received an increase, the second consecutive year that the programs were largely flat-funded. For FY2024, NAEVR will be requesting that the VRP be funded at a level of $30 million.