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US Congress approves stopgap funding bill


The US Congress may consider approving a final 2015 budget in November.

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The US Senate passed a stopgap spending bill on 18 September that includes US$88 million to fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The bill, endorsed by the House of Representatives on 17 September, now heads to US President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it into law. The legislation would fund government operations from 1 October — when the 2015 fiscal year begins — until 11 December.

Under the plan, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would receive $30 million to send more health workers and resources to countries affected by the Ebola outbreak; the agency said earlier this week that it has roughly 100 personnel in Africa working on Ebola response. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority would receive $58 million to fund the development of the promising antibody cocktail known as ZMapp, made by Mapp Pharmaceutical in San Diego, California, and two vaccines against Ebola produced by the US National Institutes of Health and NewLink Genetics of Ames, Iowa.

The funding is a small fraction of the 3,000 military personnel and roughly $750 million that Obama has committed to the Ebola fight. The disease is thought to have infected more than 5,300 people and has killed more than 2,600, according to the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

The temporary funding measure would essentially hold US agencies’ budgets flat at 2014 levels. A more permanent 2015 spending plan will have to wait until Congress returns to work after the federal election on 4 November.

Below are the funding levels that key US science agencies received in 2014, plus the funding levels proposed in 2015 House and Senate spending bills, and the estimated fiscal 2015 funding included in the stopgap measure approved on 18 September.

Agency 2014 funding level (US$ millions)
2015 House proposal 2015 Senate proposal 2015 stopgap measure (estimated, US$ millions)
National Institutes of Health 30,003 N/A N/A 30,003
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 5,882 N/A N/A 5,912
Food and Drug Administration 2,640* 2,574 2,588 2,640
National Science Foundation 7,172 7,404 7,255 7,172
NASA (science) 5,151 5,193 5,200 5,151
Department of Energy Office of Science 5,066 5,071 N/A 5,066
Environmental Protection Agency 8,200 7,483 N/A 8,200
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 5,314 5,325 5,420 5,314
US Geological Survey 1,032 1,035 N/A 1,032

* Includes one-time transfer of $79 million in user fees.

Additional reporting by Sara Reardon. 


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