Will We Have a Federal Budget?
BY AARON TRIPPLER, DIRECTOR, AIHA® GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS
By the time you read this the federal
government may have already shut
down, but as I write this in early April,
Republicans, Democrats, and the President are still discussing what to do about
the federal budget for the remaining six
months in fiscal year 2011. The sixth
continuing resolution is set to expire
April 8, and there aren’t a lot of options
available as to what to do next.
Option 1: Shut down the government
because of a lack of funding. If this occurs it will take place on Saturday, April
9, when all nonessential personnel will
be furloughed and many agencies shut
down. The odds of this happening are
pretty high since the two sides can’t
seem to agree on anything.
Option 2: Pass a budget that provides
government funding through the current
fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. This
seems like the most reasonable approach,
but nothing on Capitol Hill is reasonable
right now. The argument for and against
passing this budget revolves around how
much to cut from the budget in the remaining six months. Estimates are all
over the place, with the Republicans
hoping to cut some $60 billion from the
spending bill and Democrats moving
from no cuts to now accepting around
$30 billion in cuts. The odds of something coming out of this debate aren’t
Option 3: Pass another continuing resolution. Insiders are hinting this option
may be the best bet, but caution that
any continuing resolution (CR) may
only last an additional week and the CR
would undoubtedly contain additional
No one seems to have any idea what
specific cuts are in the works for the remaining six months of the FY 2011
budget or which cuts will affect the FY
2012 budget. In early April the Republicans announced that they hope to cut
trillions from the budget over the next
ten years and that entitlement programs
will also be targeted.
The FY 2012 budget
million in cuts from
the NIOSH budget.
AIHA extends a big thank-you to members and others who contacted their
elected officials to oppose potential cuts
to the NIOSH budget. So far the continuing resolutions have contained no cuts
in the NIOSH FY 2011 budget. Until the
FY 2011 budget is decided, there will be
no discussion of the FY 2012 budget.
The FY 2012 budget proposal includes
approximately $100 million in cuts from
the NIOSH budget. Saving all of this
funding will be extremely difficult. Perhaps the best option would be to compromise on the cuts and phase-in
reductions in spending for the NIOSH
Education and Research Centers and the
Agricultural Center programs.
The other big threat to occupational
safety and health lies in the budget for
OSHA. At this point, the continuing resolutions have spared OSHA from any
cuts in the FY 2011 budget. However, the
Republicans have proposed to cut OSHA
by $100 million for the remainder of FY
2011. It’s hard to even imagine what a
$100 million cut in OSHA funding might
do to occupational safety and health.
The proposal calls for huge cuts in enforcement and safety and health statistics, as well as cuts in state program
funding, standard setting, technical support, etc. So much for the President’s
recommendation to increase OSHA funding in FY 2012.
In response, AIHA is again asking
the membership to take a few minutes
to contact their elected officials, this
time about FY 2011 OSHA appropriations. Let them know that cuts of this
magnitude would have a devastating
effect on worker health and safety.
AIHA Government Affairs staff is also
passing along these concerns when
meeting with Hill staff.
Frankly, many occupational safety
and health professionals, including
some AIHA members, believe cuts are
needed to bring federal government
spending under control. This is probably true; however, programs that impact
health and safety should be the last
ones to be cut.
Let’s hope both sides can compromise
and move the country forward with a
Aaron Trippler directs government affairs for more
aison with Congress and federal agencies. He can
be reached at (703) 846-0730 or email@example.com.