With fiscal year 2003 now underway and Congress still divided over how much budget money agencies such as OSHA and NIOSH will get, federal agencies are operating on a week-to-week basis with the same funding appropriated for 2002.

OSHA currently receives an appropriation of $443 million. President Bush and the House want to reduce that to $437 million in fiscal 2003. The Senate wants to pump the budget up to $469 million.

The Senate usually holds more power in this debate and its recommendation would be the one most likely to be approved, according to the American Industrial Hygiene Association. But with war with Iraq possible and the economy slumping, insiders at OSHA believe they would be lucky to remain level-funded ($443 million) for the coming year, according to AIHA.

NIOSH currently receives $286 million, but the President and the House have recommended a substantial cut to $258 million. The Senate has recommended level funding for NIOSH at $286 million. With things as they are, it will be difficult for NIOSH to expect any increase, according to AIHA.