WASHINGTONCongress adjourned and retreated from the nation's capital in early December without passing 9 of the 11 fiscal year (FY) 2007 appropriations bills, including that of the Department of Health and Human Services. The House and Senate did pass a continuing resolution enabling the affected federal departments and agencies to continue operating at FY2006 budget levels until February 1, 2007. And within days, leaders of the incoming Democratic-controlled Congress announced they would extend the current budget levels through FY2007, which ends September 30, 2007.
"While the results will be far from ideal, this path provides the best way to dispose of the unfinished business quickly, and allow governors, state, and local officials, and families to finally plan for the coming year with some knowledge of what the federal government is funding," Rep. David Obey (D-Wis) and Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-WVa), chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, said in a statement.
The decision left the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in better financial shape than they would have been had Congress passed the FY2007 budget requested by President Bush. But it also meant another year of fewer real dollars with which to fund research and operate the NIH components.
Rep. Obey and Sen. Byrd indicated that Congress will make some monetary adjustments in the joint resolution that will extend the FY2006 budget as a way to address specific needs within some departments and agencies. But whether the NHI and NCI budgets will benefit remained an open question.