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Days End; Unending Night?

By Peter Kyriacopoulos, senior director of public policy

The federal fiscal year 2014 appropriations process concluded on January 17, 2014, with enactment of the Consolidated Appropriations Act. That bill funded federal government operations for the eight month remainder of fiscal year 2014, which began October 1, 2013 with the shutdown of the federal government and runs through September 30, 2014.

Overall, the 2014 appropriations levels provide some relief for many programs on which the nation’s public health laboratory system depends. Instead of the full $36 billion cut in nondefense discretionary spending – the budget account that funds the Department of Health and Human Services and its agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – required by current law, only $14 billion will be cut in 2014.

Days End; Unending Night? |

This $22 billion in “additional” funding has led to $30 million in funding for the CDC Advanced Molecular Detection initiative, an additional $31 million for state and local preparedness, and $9 million more for CDC food safety activities. Most other areas of CDC, HRSA and FDA of interest to the public health laboratory community get level funding, the exception being CDC’s Public Health Workforce which is cut over $11 million – a cut that imperils the APHL fellowship program in the coming year. Funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Water and Drinking Water revolving funds are also increased $73 million and $46 million respectively.

While the 2014 funding levels offer some respite, it is transitory as the agreement for spending levels in fiscal year 2015 includes a much smaller reduction is spending cuts of only $9 billion. This also means the amount cut will be $27 billion – or $1 billion more than the amount cut in 2013. Complicating the picture further, $7 billion of the $9 billion in relief is directed to other specific funding needs so that the actual relief from cuts for the rest of nondefense discretionary is closer to only $2 billion. Federal funding in 2015 will be substantially below what was provided in 2013 with the possibility that it will have the effect of a $34 billion cut, and each of the fiscal years 2016 through 2023 will have no relief from the $36 billion that will be cut annually.

One hopes that the impact of these current and projected cuts provide ample evidence on why sequestration and automatic cuts in spending were never intended to become actual policy and are so punitive that they lead to a more inspired and thoughtful resolution of financing federal government operations. If not, the dark forecast will indeed appear as unending night.

  • American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA)
  • Sequester 2013 Operating Plans
  • CDC funding cut $340 million; PHEP hit hardest at -$34 million
  • HRSA: -$365 million
  • FDA: -$209 million
  • Global Health: -$411 million
  • EPA: -$385 million
  • After Sequester?
  • Fiscal Year 2014
  • House-passed budget – 3/2013 (Congressman Paul Ryan)
    • Continues reduced sequestration funding for nondefense discretionary (NDD);
    • Cancels the reductions in defense and transfers those cuts onto NDD; and
    • Imposes  additional cuts of $700 billion on NDD over the next ten years.
    • Senate-passed budget – 3/2013 (Senator Patty Murray)
      • Eliminates sequestration,
      • Imposes cuts of $145 billion on NDD over next ten years.
      • President’s budget request – 4/2013
        • Eliminates sequestration
        • Imposes cuts of $98 billion on NDD over next ten years, staring 2017
        • CDC takes largest cut of any HHS agency, -$270 million
        • SHUTDOWN!


  • We Have a Deal?!
  • What is That Number?
  • Murray/Ryan Agreement
  • 2014 Appropriations


  • What’s Next?
  • Total spending for 2015 is set –
    • $1.013  trillion
    • NDD sequestration for 2015 is set –
      • $27 billion (+$1 billion over 2013; ~+$6 billion)
      • President’s budget for 2015 March 4
        • So what?
        • How Does This End?
        • 2015 funding cuts worse than 2013 – no delays
        • 2016 full $36 billion NDD sequestration
        • Impact of mid-term election results?

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