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CCTS Newsletter | September 16, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Whitney Lingafelter
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CCTS Newsletter
Dale Dirks and Dane Christiansen
September 16, 2016

Congress reconvened after Labor Day following a seven-week summer recess. Legislators are only expected to be on Capitol Hill during the month of September though before adjourning again to hit the campaign trail. While Congress is facing a short work period there are a handful of timely “must pass” items awaiting consideration.  

With fiscal year (FY) 2017 set to begin at midnight on October, 1st and none of the twelve annual appropriations bills near completion, Congress will need to pass a Continuing Appropriations Resolution or “CR”. Without such action legislators run the risk of a government shutdown. The CR will simply keep federal programs operating at their FY 2016 funding levels until FY 2017 appropriations measures are enacted. There has been some debate over the length of the CR and it appears a consensus is emerging that interim funding would last until around mid-December.

At this point, it appears Congress will use the lame duck session after the election and before the end of the year to finalize appropriations for FY 2017. Pending through this process are meaningful funding increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and individual clinical and translational research and research training programs. If lawmakers have difficulty enacting the CR or finalizing FY 2017 appropriations at the end of the year, these potential increase could be at risk as NIH and related agencies would face the possibility of year-long level-funding.

Lawmakers are also using the September session to advance emergency supplemental funding for public health and medical research activities to combat Zika virus. Since these efforts are focused on emergency funding, disaster relief and similar items may be added to any such funding package. It is important to note that lawmakers attempted to pass a Zika funding bill before the summer recess, but disagreements over policy riders and funding levels delayed the overall process. Similar dynamics may undermine the current effort in this regard.