American Association for Cancer Research

AACR Cancer Policy Monitor

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                                                                                                  MARCH 2011

COMPROMISE ON FY2011 FUNDING REMAINS ELUSIVE                           

Congress clears another short-term stopgap spending measure

By Mary Lee Watts, M.P.H., R.D.

Director, AACR Government Relations


Partisan deadlock over FY2011 spending priorities and a looming government shutdown obliged Congress to approve yet another short-term spending measure that will keep the federal government running through March 18. 

The bill, cleared quickly in both chambers and signed by the president last week, includes $4 billion in budgetary reductions by targeting earmarks and accelerating some program cuts proposed in the administration’s FY2012 budget.  None of the cuts will affect the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or other cancer programs, which will continue to operate at FY2010 levels for the time being.

The two-week measure gives legislators some additional time to negotiate common ground on federal funding levels for the remainder of the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. The two parties, however, remain strongly at odds with one another.

Last month, the Republican-led House of Representatives approved H.R.1, a funding bill containing massive reductions in discretionary FY2011 spending, including a $1.6 billion cut to the NIH. Democrats in the Senate reacted by releasing a counterproposal, which has yet to be considered by the full chamber, that would fund the agency at $31.2 billion, the same amount as was appropriated in FY2010.

Entering the fray last week, President Obama called on House and Senate leaders to begin meeting immediately with Vice President Joe Biden, the White House chief of staff and the budget director in hopes that a bipartisan compromise can be reached before the current extension expires.

“… we cannot keep doing business this way,” said the president in a statement released March 2. “Living with the threat of a shutdown every few weeks is not responsible, and it puts our economic progress in jeopardy.”

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