US Capitol building

U.S. research agencies would get budget boosts of roughly 5% this year under a final 2022 spending bill that congressional leaders unveiled early today and hope to pass in the next few days. But those amounts fall far short of aspirational funding levels for several science agencies that Congress is weighing under separate legislation now being negotiated.

The 2741-page appropriations measure, if approved, would lift a spending freeze that has been in effect since the start of the 2022 fiscal year on 1 October. Lacking a final budget, Congress kept the government operating through a series of continuing resolutions and, before the bill passes, may need one more extending into next week.

The freeze has prevented agencies from expanding existing programs or launching any new initiatives, including the proposed Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) to develop cutting-edge medical treatments and a new technology directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The so-called omnibus bill would end that paralysis. NIH’s overall 2022 budget, for example, would increase by 5.3%, to $45 billion, with language requiring each of its 27 institutes and centers to grow by at least 3.4%. The bill also gives the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institute of Health’s (NIH’s) parent body, a budget of $1 billion to create ARPA-H.

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