The 118th Congress convened with an uneven start. The Senate has been relatively uneventful with the chamber convening briefly to swear in a handful of newly elected Senators. On the other hand, the House struggled to elect a Speaker for nearly a week in a protracted political fight between moderate and far-right Republicans. While the leadership of key congressional committees has been announced, both chambers have yet to release complete committee rosters and to begin regular business.
The ceremonial start to the annual budget and appropriations process is the release of the President’s Budget Request to Congress. The Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 budget request is scheduled for the start of February, but the exact date might slip a little considering the final FY 2023 spending bills were not completed until the end of December. With saber-rattling over the debt ceiling, the deficit, and federal spending already underway on Capitol Hill there is growing concern among advocates over headwinds that could blunt federal investments in medical research and public health programs.
With a split government, dealmaking will be crucial to advancing the FY 2024 appropriations bills and resolving pressing policy items. Last year, Congress ultimately enacted an FY 2023 omnibus package that included notable funding increases for key priorities (NIH, CTSAs, ARPA-H, etc,) as well as policy items such as addressing Medicare cuts, facilitating access to clinical trials, and lowering out-of-pocket costs for patients. With continued advocacy and meaningful congressional outreach, this community should have every expectation that our elected representatives can negotiate and deliver a similar positive result for FY 2024.