US president Joe Biden has signed another continuing resolution (CR) to maintain funding for government agencies and avoid a government shutdown for the time being, nearly half a year into the fiscal year, but many science advocates are not celebrating even though this keeps research funders afloat.

‘Funding the government with short-term continuing resolutions over five months into the fiscal year is dysfunctional,’ stated Sudip Parikh, the chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in a 4 March statement. ‘With the passage of this CR, Congress yet again takes only one step back from the brink of effectively surrendering our global leadership in science and technology to other nations that have chosen to prioritise investments in biomedical research, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, fusion, [science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine] education, and more,’ he continued.

If Congress fails to fund the federal government by 30 April, ‘large automatic cuts to research and development will be triggered’, Parikh warned. ‘These cuts would have real and lasting consequences for the science and technology foundations of our future health, economy, and national security.’ He urged Congress to pass full-year appropriations bills before the end of April to ensure that US science and technology leadership is maintained.

With the latest CR’s passage, the new funding deadline for several federal agencies and programmes is 8 March and for the remainder it is 22 March.

Meanwhile, just days after the CR was signed, congressional appropriators unveiled a six-bill funding package, dubbed a ‘minibus’, as a step to moving some agencies off a CR. But the research community had some concerns about that measure, which was released on 3 March.

For example, The Science Coalition – representing more than 50 of America’s top public and private research universities – cautioned that cuts to certain federal science agencies in the minibus, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), will restrict US research and innovation, impede progress on critical societal challenges, and jeopardise the US’s scientific leadership.

‘While trends vary by agency, proposed cuts to vital federal science agencies like NSF are troubling,’ stated Science Coalition president Jill Pentimonti. She noted that the minibus would reduce the NSF’s budget below the enacted level in its baseline funding.

The Association of American Universities’ president, Barbara Snyder, is pleased that Congress has reached agreement on a package of bills to fund a portion of the government through the end of fiscal year 2024. Nevertheless, she said she is ‘deeply concerned’ about the budget proposed for the NSF in particular.

‘The funding proposed in the package would reduce NSF’s capacity by almost $500 million or more than 5% below current levels,’ Snyder stated. ‘By undercutting the NSF’s work, we are gambling our nation’s future as a global leader in science and innovation.’