Some government employees may have been looking forward to a long weekend. But a government shutdown is no laughing matter. It’s clear that government employees throughout the nation were bracing for the absence of essential income in a difficult economic environment. But a deal was cut and appropriations will continue through the end of this fiscal year. So ends the long standing battle over FY 2011 budgeting, which culminated this past weekend with the 7th CR, and nearly furloughed 800,000 federal employees.
It’s hard to say just who came out ahead in this deal. All sides are claiming victory even though it is becoming increasingly clear that this was really just one of the first upcoming budget battles and tougher fights are still come (e.g. debt ceiling and entitlements).
Health research and science may emerge unscathed by this most recent budget debate, despite the fact that these areas were clearly targeted for cuts in H.R. 1 – the House spending bill that never passed the Senate.
Some have suggested that H.R. 1 should be viewed as a policy document that lays out the priorities of House Republicans and will continue to guide their approach to governing. Hence, while research programs may appear safe for now, they could be targeted again during debates over the FY 2012 budget.
This is why it is essential for all those who care about health research to continue to reach out to Congress and demonstrate the local impact and importance of these programs. Remember, that at the end of the day your representatives are ultimately accountable to you. Make sure they know that you didn’t send them to Washington to cut medical research.