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Bullet policy · Apr 05, 2022

President Biden Requests Large Boosts for Science in FY 2023

On March 28, 2022, President Joe Biden released his budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2023, once again calling for significant investments in climate change, scientific research, and conservation. The budget framework proposes large budget increases for most federal science agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The $5.8 trillion budget proposal includes $1.7 trillion in discretionary spending for FY 2023. Biden proposes $813 billion (+4 percent) for defense discretionary spending and $829 billion (+14 percent) for nondefense discretionary spending—the source for most scientific research programs.

Some key items related to science in the budget request include:

  • NSF would receive $10.5 billion in FY 2023, a 19 percent or $1.7 billion increase compared to the FY 2022 enacted level. Research and Related Activities at NSF would be augmented by 18 percent to $8.4 billion. The newly established translational research focused directorate—named the Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP) Directorate—would receive $880 million. The TIP directorate will work with programs across NSF and with other federal and non-federal entities “to expedite technology development in emerging areas that are crucial for the United States’ technological leadership.” $393 million would be allocated to programs that aim to broaden the participation of  underserved and underrepresented groups in science and engineering.
  • NIH would receive a $4 billion or 9 percent boost to $49 billion, of which $5 billion (+$4 billion) would go towards the new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) to “build high-risk, high-reward capabilities and platforms to drive biomedical breakthroughs that would provide transformative solutions for all patients.”
  • NOAA’s budget would grow by 17 percent to $6.9 billion in FY 2023. This includes a $30 million increase in funding for marine sanctuaries and other marine protected areas to assess and address climate change impacts and 92 million for expanded climate competitive research grants.
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) would see its budget augmented by 19 percent to $1.5 billion. The budget for its Scientific and Technical Research and Services account would expand by 15 percent to $975 million. Funding for NIST’s manufacturing programs would grow by 114 percent to $372 million.
  • A $26 billion (+8 percent) budget is proposed for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in FY 2023. The space agency’s Science account would grow by 5 percent to $8 billion. NASA’s Earth Science program, which includes climate research, would receive a 17 percent boost.
  • Budget for the Department of Energy Office of Science would increase by $324 million or 4 percent to $7.8 billion. Biological and environmental research within the Office of Science would be augmented by $89 million or 11 percent to $904 million. For the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the proposal includes $700 million, an increase of 56 percent over the FY 2022 enacted level. Last year, the Administration requested funding to establish a new unit—the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Climate (ARPA-C)—to support the development of “technologies to address climate adaptation, resilience and non-energy emissions mitigation.” No funds are requested for ARPA-C in FY 2023. Instead, the budget proposes that the ARPA-E expand its scope to include research on climate adaptation, resilience innovations, and greenhouse gas reduction.
  • The Department of the Interior would receive $18.1 billion in FY 2023, an increase of $2.9 billion compared to the FY 2022 continuing resolution (CR) level. The National Park Service would receive $3.6 billion, an increase of 10.5 percent compared to the FY 2022 enacted level; the Bureau of Land Management would be funded at $1.6 billion (+10 percent), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would get $2 billion (+25 percent).
  • USGS, the Interior Department’s science agency, would see its budget grow by 23 percent to $1.7 billion. The Ecosystems Mission Area within USGS would receive $376 million—a more than 35 percent increase compared to the FY 2022 enacted level. Funding for Climate Adaptation Science Centers would be augmented by 65 percent to $86 million.
  • EPA is slated for a 24 percent budget increase in FY 2023. Overall, the agency would receive $11.9 billion, with $864 million (+15 percent) targeted to science and technology.
  • The research spending account at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would receive $3.6 billion in FY 2023, with basic agricultural research receiving $1.4 billion. Budget for the Agricultural Research Service within USDA would grow by 8 percent to $1.9 billion. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) would be funded at $1.8 billion, an increase of 12 percent compared to FY 2022, with the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) slated to receive 564 million (+27 percent).
  • The Smithsonian Institution would be funded at $1.2 billion, an increase of 11 percent compared to FY 2022. The National Museum of Natural History’s Salaries and Expenses Account would receive a boost of 3.4 percent to $55.2 million, while its Facilities Capital account would receive $15.3 million to continue major revitalization work.

The President’s budget request serves as a starting point for congressional debate on FY 2023 appropriations, with the final decisions about spending levels resting with lawmakers. Despite the large funding increases requested for science by President Biden in FY 2022, Congress ultimately appropriated much smaller increases. Congress is currently holding budget hearings as the House and Senate Appropriations Committees work to develop FY 2023 funding legislation in response to the President’s request.

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