The Senate last week began work on a continuing budget resolution to fund the federal government for the second half of fiscal 2013, which ends on Sept. 30. The House of Representatives passed its version of this resolution a week earlier. Congress has to come up with a budget plan by March 27, the day the current stopgap budget measure expires.
The Senate budget bill, which has bipartisan support, takes a broader approach to funding the federal government than the House-passed measure (H.R. 933). The House version combines appropriations bills for defense, military construction, and veterans affairs with a continuing budget resolution that would essentially fund the rest of the government at 2012 levels through Sept. 30. The Senate version would specify funding for three additional appropriations bills—agriculture; commerce, justice, and science; and homeland security. Both bills leave sequestration in place.
Under the Senate bill, for example, NSF would be funded at $7.25 billion in fiscal 2013, an increase of $221 million from 2012 levels. And for NIST, the bill would provide an additional $43 million for its laboratory and technical research.
A procedural snag delayed action by the Senate, where the leadership had hoped to clear the bill by the end of last week. Therefore, at C&EN press time, the bill’s fate was unclear. But assuming the bill does pass, it would need to return to the House or be sent to a bicameral conference committee to iron out differences.