By our Constitution, our elected representatives annually decide how much money our government will spend on government programs. This year the process has a sticking point: budget caps. (In lay terms, in a prior Congress, it was agreed to put a “cap” on the amount of money our government can spend. That cap will be reached this year….unless Congress agrees to increase the cap (which it will likely do).
Nonetheless, a sense of uncertainty continues over the federal spending processes this year because of the budget caps. If Congress does not take action to increase the budget caps, we could see a 10% cut across the board for domestic spending (this is what is meant by ‘sequestration’ that will cause automatic budget cuts if the budget caps are exceeded).
There was recent movement on this issue. The House adopted a resolution to “deem” the overall discretionary budget cap at $1.295 trillion in FY 2020. This enabled the Appropriations Committee to begin drafting and considering the 12 annual spending bills (Defense, Labor, Health & Human Services (LHHS), Commerce, et al.) at higher funding levels than currently permitted in statute. Because the total funding level exceeds the Budget Control Act of 2011 statutory caps, lawmakers eventually will need to pass legislation to modify the caps in statute.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters April 9th that after separate discussions with President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House and Senate leaders have agreed to assemble a group of staff to initiate discussions on a deal to address the spending caps in both FYs 2020 and 2021. However, the President began tweeting his opposition to a deal to increase the caps soon after.
Earlier this month, both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees held hearings on NIH (National Institutes of Health) & NCI (National Cancer Institute) funding for FY 2020 with NIH Director Francis Collins and NCI Acting Director Doug Lowy testifying. Committee members on both sides of the aisle reiterated their support for funding medical and cancer research. In a bipartisan way, they rejected the Administration’s proposals to cut NIH by almost $5 billion and the NCI by almost $900 million.
The House is moving very quickly to advance their spending bills with a mark-up for the LHHS Appropriations bill in subcommittee expected April 30th and at full committee the week of May 6th. The House is planning to complete mark-ups of all their bills in May with votes on the House floor in June.
KidneyCan is part of a consortium that worked with the House Cancer Caucus to draft and disseminate a letter supporting $6.5 billion for NCI in FY2020 as outlined in the Professional Judgement Budget (attached). Ninety-one bipartisan members of the House signed on in support of the letter.
The Senate process is less sure at this point though we do expect the Senate to move forward with subcommittee and full committee mark-ups by July. However, when bills will actually make it to the Senate floor is less certain.
KidneyCan is a member of the consortium, One Voice Against Cancer, (OVAC) and submitted testimony (attached) to both the House and Senate LHHS Committees ensuring that our cancer research priorities are part of the Committee record for FY2020.