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Another Round?

Another federal budget battle may be brewing in the US, Nature News notes, and researchers may again get caught in the middle.

Fiscal year 2014 is quickly approaching — it begins in October — and there is nary a budget in sight. That means, Nature News says, there will likely be a continuing resolution that keeps the government funded through December. And December is when there will also likely be a showdown over the debt ceiling.

As Nature News notes, "[a] similar fight in the summer of 2011 led to the law that created sequestration," the across-the-board budget cuts that went into effect last March that trimmed about 5 percent from the budgets of the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. If the sequester stays in place, another round of cuts — 2 percent — will be made in January.

Spending bills put forth by Congress indicate that the Democrat-controlled Senate would like to do away with the sequester and give small budget increases to science agencies, while the Republican-dominated House of Representatives would like to reduce spending by that additional 2 percent, though return NSF to its 2012 budget level.

"The situation leaves US research institutions in an uneasy position, unsure whether 2013 funding levels will have been the nadir, or a prelude to something worse," Nature News adds.