Congress Takes Up Science, Energy Appropriations Bills

Last week, various appropriations committees in the House and Senate began the process of marking up funding bills for FY 2013 affecting the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Departments of Energy and Transportation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and other agencies. The full Senate committee has marked up the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) bill and the Transportation and HUD bill; House subcommittees have marked up their own CJS bill and their Energy and Water bill.

So far, many of the feared cuts have not yet materialized. Both chambers would provide increases of approximately 3 percent above FY 2012 levels to NSF, and approximately 10 percent increases to NIST. Both funding increases would fall somewhat short of the President’s request. Both chambers also seek partial restoration of funding to NASA’s planetary science account, which was cut by 20 percent in the President’s budget. The House would grant NASA’s overall science budget a very small increase, while the Senate would trim NASA science by about 1 percent; both chambers would be more generous than the President’s budget in this regard. The Senate also proposes shifting weather satellite funding to NASA from NOAA, while the House bill does not contain this proposal. For the Department of Energy (DOE) budget, the House would be much less generous than the Administration. The DOE Office of Science budget would be cut by about 1 percent, while both ARPA-E and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy would be cut by at least 20 percent. All three energy agencies are slated for large increases under the President’s request. It is not yet clear how the House will rectify these higher spending levels with the relatively more austere budget approved by the full House.

This week, the full House Appropriations Committee will take up the Energy and Water bill, while the Senate Energy and Water subcommittee will mark up its own version of the bill. The spending bills for other agencies have not yet emerged.

AAAS Policy Alert