The U.S. House of Representatives today took a major step toward setting federal science budgets for the 2018 fiscal year that begins 1 October. But Congress is still far from the finish line, and final spending levels aren’t likely to be finalized until late this year at the earliest.
Legislators voted largely along party lines in approving a package of 12 appropriations bills that would provide about $1.23 trillion in 2018 for so-called discretionary programs. That category covers about one-third of the federal budget and includes most research budgets. (The rest pays for mandatory entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security and interest on the $20 trillion national debt.)
The good news for the research community is that the 211-to-198 vote by the House largely rejects deep cuts to science programs proposed by President Donald Trump earlier this year—and even calls for spending increases at a few agencies, including $1.1 billion more for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). But the budgets of several research agencies would shrink by a few percentage points, or remain at existing levels.