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Bullet policy, reports · Apr 30, 2020

Science Funding in President Trump's Budget Request

AIBS Public Policy Office has released their analysis of science funding in President Trump’s proposed fiscal year 2021 budget.


On February 10, 2020, President Trump released his proposed budget for fiscal year (FY) 2021. The plan would provide $1.3 trillion for discretionary spending, of which $590 billion (-5 percent) would be allocated to nondefense discretionary spending and $741 billion (+0.3 percent) to defense spending. Non-defense discretionary spending includes funding for the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and other non-defense agencies. Most federal science agencies would receive budget cuts in FY 2021 if the President’s budget is enacted. The administration proposes $142 billion for federal research and development, 9 percent below the FY 2020 level. The proposed budget is subject to congressional appropriations.

On August 2, 2019, Congress enacted the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019, a two-year budget agreement to increase discretionary spending caps by $320 billion over FY 2020 and FY 2021. Under the agreement, defense spending will increase to $741 billion and nondefense spending will increase to $635 billion in FY 2021. While the President’s request for defense spending aligns with the new budget caps, the request for nondefense spending falls $45 billion below this cap.

Congress completed FY 2020 appropriations on December 20, 2019, nearly three months into FY 2020. Details of program level funding for some agencies for FY 2020 were not available during the preparation of this report. This analysis compares budget allocations in the FY 2021 budget request with FY 2020 enacted spending levels for most programs and FY 2019 enacted spending levels for which FY 2020 enacted data were unavailable.