Raising the federal debt limit -- which most political analysts believe will happen -- won't stop lawmakers' debates, but it will shift them to a new topic -- one which will impact occupational safety and health "in a big way," according to Aaron K. Trippler, Director of Governmental Affairs for the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA).

Once the rancorous debt limit issue is out of the way, legislators can turn their attention to the FY 2012 federal budget. Trippler predicted that the small increase for OSHA proposed by President Barack Obama will not make it into the final version of the budget.

A different Obama administration proposal -- one which would cut all funds for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)'s Education and Research Centers (ERCs) and Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing Research (AFF) -- has a more uncertain outcome.

"AIHA and others have been working to protect this NIOSH funding," said Trippler. "While it will be difficult to save this funding, some of these efforts have paid off. Senate and House Democratic leadership with oversight of NIOSH recently contacted the Office of Management and Budget, urging continuation of funding for the ERCs and AFF program."

"Stay tuned," Trippler added. "Things are likely to change many times before all this is done."