Five months and one government shutdown late


It was over five months late and resulted in a 35-day government shutdown, but Congress and the president have finally finished enacting all of the funding bills necessary to run the federal government until September 30, 2019. Last September, the first five bills, including those for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, which funds the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), were passed in time for the actual start of the fiscal year.

The funding bill for the NIH, signed into law at the end of September 2018, includes a $2 billion increase for the NIH from the FY18 budget. This budget increase was the fifth consecutive increase of at least $2 billion for the NIH. A ban on NIH-funded research using fetal tissue that had been included in the House of Representatives’ bill was not included in the final budget.

The easy passage of the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill was due to a unique pairing with the Department of Defense appropriations bill. Each bill had strong supporters and strong critics in both houses of Congress. Joining them into one bill made significant opposition all but impossible.

At the conclusion of the 35-day government shutdown that began in December 2018, the final appropriations bills were combined into one bill and passed by Congress in early February 2019. In the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019, the National Science Foundation (NSF) budget for FY19 was increased by $307.6 million to a total of $8.1 billion, which is $603 million more than the Trump administration included for the NSF in its budget request.

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About the Author:

Kevin M. Wilson serves as Director of Public Policy and Media Relations for The American Society for Cell Biology. He's worked as the Legislative Director for U.S. Congressman Robert Weygand (D-RI) and as a Legislative Assistant for U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI). He has a BA in Politics and American Government from the Catholic University of America. Email: