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Administration’s 2020 Budget Reignites Fight To Preserve, Increase Funding for Research

On March 11, President Trump released a proposed fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget that calls for double-digit decreases in funding for the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other agencies that fund research, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

This marks the third budget under this administration and the third to propose deep cuts, which Congress did not accept for FY 2018 and 2019, and likely won’t this time, either. But that’s cold comfort now. The trauma from the budget battles in 2017 and during the tumultuous 2019 budget season (including the longest federal shutdown in history and the near-miss of a second), have barely subsided. Yet, the struggle must begin anew for funding that would go into effect Oct. 1.

NIH’s supporters are pushing for increases of several billion in funding for NIH and nearly a billion for NSF, in contrast to the administration’s plans.

This situation is “a lot of fighting the same battle….or as Yogi Bera said, ‘déjà vu all over again!’” Jennifer Zeitzer, director of the Office of Public Affairs for the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), told RRC. “Obviously we’d prefer a President’s budget that does not propose cuts, but that is not what we got.”

FASEB and other organizations will kick their advocacy efforts into high gear, or more appropriately, higher gear. On March 7, before the budget was issued, FASEB “brought 57 researchers from 29 states to Capitol Hill to advocate for the 2020 NIH and NSF budget. We met with 51 House offices and 58 Senate offices. It was a really good day, and we got a lot of support for increasing the NIH and NSF budgets,” said Zeitzer.