With new fiscal year fast approaching, Congress is expected to pass a continuing resolution
By Mary Lee Watts, M.P.H., R.D.
Director, AACR Government Relations
Lawmakers have returned to Washington after an extended August recess, but their minds are still back on the campaign trail. Despite a long list of to-do items, including a slate of fiscal year 2011 spending bills that require action, there is a general reluctance to engage in anything too controversial ahead of the upcoming midterm elections.
One thing for certain is that Congress will have to adopt a strategy to keep government programs and agencies operating into the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Given that, to date, little progress has been made completing the 12 regular FY2011 spending bills, the expected scenario is that Congress will adopt a stopgap continuing resolution to keep programs operating at existing FY2010 levels until at least mid-November.
The resolution would give Congress more time to pass all of the pending appropriations bills, including the measure containing funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
Earlier this year, both House and Senate appropriations committees cleared bills that would provide the NIH with a $1 billion (3.2 percent) increase, matching the amount requested by President Obama in February. This proposed funding increase is the largest for NIH in eight years. The NCI would receive a 3.2 percent, or $162 million increase, under the House version and a slightly smaller increase of 3 percent, or $153 million, under the current Senate version.
Congressional leaders have indicated that both chambers may adjourn again as soon as Oct. 8 and then return for a “lame duck” session following the Nov. 2 elections, an opportunity for lawmakers to wrap up outstanding items before the curtains close on the 111th Congress.
Read more from the September edition of the AACR Cancer Policy Monitor: