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Bullet policy · Aug 01, 2022

Senate Proposes Boosts for Research Funding

On July 28, 2022, the Senate Appropriations Committee released drafts of all twelve appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2023, proposing significant funding increases for many science agencies.

The overall $1.7 trillion appropriations package includes $653 billion in non-defense discretionary spending (+10 percent) and $850 billion in defense discretionary spending (+8.7 percent).

The Senate spending bills call for robust federal support for research in general, with several agencies looking at a more than 10 percent increase in budget compared to FY 2022, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Science highlights from the Senate’s spending plan include:

  • NSF is slated to receive $10.3 billion in FY 2023, an increase of 17 percent compared to FY 2022. In comparison, the President requested $10.5 billion for the science agency, while the House has called for a much smaller increase of 9 percent to $9.6 billion. The research account at NSF would be augmented by 16 percent under the Senate plan, which supports the agency’s proposal to launch a $200 million network of regional innovation engines or ‘NSF Engines’ and directs NSF to award at least 20 percent of those funds to institutions in states that participate in the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).
  • NOAA would receive an 11 percent increase to $6.5 billion under the Senate plan, compared to a 16 percent increase under the House bill.
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is looking at an 8 percent increase under the Senate plan and a 6 percent increase under the House plan. The Senate bill calls for a 6 percent increase for NASA’s science account, with a 14 percent boost for earth science.
  • NIST is slated for a whopping 38 percent increase under the Senate bill, while the House has called for a smaller, but still significant 20 percent increase.
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) would be funded at nearly 48 billion (+4 percent) under the Senate plan. This includes a flat budget of $1 billion for the new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). The House, on the other hand, would provide NIH with $50.25 billion, of which $2.75 billion would go to ARPA-H.
  • The Senate plan calls for a 9 percent budget increase for the U.S. Geological Survey, roughly half the level of increase proposed by the House. Funding for the Ecosystems Mission Area would grow by 13 percent to $315 million under the Senate plan, while the House bill has proposed a 29 percent boost for the biological research arm of the U.S. Department of Interior.
  • The National Park Service would receive a 10 percent funding increase, with its resource stewardship account slated for 36 percent boost; the Bureau of Land Management would get a 9 percent increase in budget; and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would get a 12 percent boost. The House has proposed slightly higher, but comparable increases for these Interior agencies.
  • EPA is looking at an 11 percent increase to $10.6 billion under the Senate plan, and a 20 percent bump under the House plan. The President has requested a budget of $11.9 billion (+24 percent) for the regulatory agency. The Senate proposal would boost science at EPA by 12 percent to $853 million, which is $11 million below the President’s proposed level and $19 million less than the House bill.
  • Within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) would receive $1.9 billion (+9 percent), the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) would get $1.7 billion (+3 percent) and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) would receive $455 million (+2 percent). The House plan would provide increases of 2, 9, and 12 percent for ARS, NIFA, and AFRI, respectively.
  • Under the Senate plan, the Department of Energy Office of Science would see its budget grow by 8 percent to $8.1 billion, of which $914 million (+12 percent) would be directed to biological and environmental research (BER). The House plan includes $8 billion for the office and $840 million for BER. Both chambers’ proposed levels for the Office of Science are higher than the President’s requested budget of $7.8 billion (+4 percent).
  • The House, Senate, and President have all called for a budget of $1.2 billion (+ 11 percent) for the Smithsonian Institution.

The Senate Appropriations Committee decided to skip the markup process this year after failing to reach an agreement on overall spending levels. Instead, the release of the Senate bills will jumpstart negotiations between the two chambers, with the goal of passing an omnibus spending package by the end of the year. The House approved 6 of their 12 spending bills on July 20, but it is currently unclear if the chamber will vote on the remaining bills prior to an agreement with the Senate on final numbers for details about the House appropriations bills). It is unlikely that the bills will be finalized before the midterm elections in November, which means that Congress will need to pass a stopgap measure by September 30 to avoid a government shutdown.

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