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Bullet policy · Jul 20, 2020

House Begins Work on FY 2021 Appropriations

Over the past two weeks, the House Appropriations Committee has swiftly advanced all twelve appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2021. These bills will now be considered by the full House of Representatives.

The Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) spending measure would provide $8.55 billion to the National Science Foundation (NSF), which is $270 million increase from FY 2020. The President proposed a 6 percent cut for the science agency for FY 2021. Research and related activities within NSF, which includes the Biological Sciences Directorate, would receive grow by $230 million to $6.97 billion in FY 2021. Under the House bill, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) would receive flat funding at $22.63 billion; the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) would receive $1.04 billion, an increase of 1 percent over FY 2020; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would see an increase of $102 million to $5.45 billion in FY 2021.

The Interior-Environment bill includes $36.8 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of $771 million above the FY 2020 enacted level, and $5.11 billion over the President’s FY 2021 request. The measure includes $15 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations for investments in critical infrastructure. The Department of the Interior overall would receive $13.83 billion, $304 million above the FY 2020 enacted level. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would receive $1.6 billion, an increase of $37 million above FY 2020; the National Park Service would receive $3.22 billion, $55 million above FY 2020; and the Smithsonian Institution would be funded at $1.06 billion, 1 percent above FY 2020. The Bureau of Land Management would shrink by $28 million to $1.3 billion.

Funding for the U.S. Geological Survey would grow by 2 percent to $1.29 billion in FY 2021, with its Ecosystems Mission Area receiving $261.3 million. The bill modifies and expands upon the budget restructure proposed by the Trump Administration to include the Environmental Health and Land Change Science programs under the Ecosystems account. The President had proposed eliminating the Environmental Health account, but House appropriators have allocated a flat budget of $23.5 million for the program.

Funding for the Environmental Protection Agency would be augmented by $318 million (4 percent) to a total of $9.4 billion in FY 2021. The President had proposed shrinking the agency’s budget by 26 percent. The Science and Technology account at EPA would also see a 4 percent increase to $745 million.

The Labor, Health and Human Services spending plan includes $196.5 billion in discretionary funding, $2.4 billion above the FY 2020 enacted level and $20.8 billion above the President’s request. The measure provides $24.4 billion in emergency funding to support State and local public health departments, public health laboratories, and global health activities during the pandemic. The National Institutes of Health would receive $47 billion (an increase of $5.5 billion) overall, with $42 billion (increase of $500 million) in annual appropriations and $5 billion in emergency appropriations to improve capacity at research institutions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would receive $8 billion (+$232 million) in FY 2021, in addition to $9 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations to improve preparedness for public health emergencies.

The Energy and Water Development spending bill allocates $7.05 billion to the Department of Energy Office of Science, an increase of $50 million above FY 2020. The bill would boost funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E), by $10 million to $435 million rejecting the President’s proposal to eliminate the agency.

The Agriculture-FDA bill provides $3.3 billion, $90 million above FY 2020, for agricultural research programs, including the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The bill targets funding to research to mitigate and stop devastating crop diseases, improve food safety and water quality, increase production, and combat antimicrobial resistance. Funding for ARS would be slashed by 10 percent to $1.45 billion, while NIFA, which partners with academic institutions to conduct research, education, and extension activities, would receive $1.57 billion, an increase of 3 percent above FY 2020. The bill boosts funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative by $10 million to $435 million.

Next week, the House of Representatives will consider a four-bill appropriations package or “minibus,” which includes spending bills for State-Foreign Operations, Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA, Interior-Environment, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. Lawmakers in the House are planning to swiftly advance and pass all FY 2021 appropriations bills by the end of July, while markups of spending legislation have been delayed in the Senate Appropriations Committee over partisan disagreements on police reform and COVID-19 spending. Both chambers of Congress will need to pass all 12 appropriations bills or pass a stopgap measure before the end of the fiscal year on September 30 to avoid a government shutdown.