President Joe Biden released his budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2024 yesterday, once again calling for major investments in climate change, scientific research, and conservation. The budget framework proposes significant budget increases for most federal science agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The $6.9 trillion budget proposal includes $1.7 trillion in discretionary spending for FY 2024. Biden proposes $886 billion (+3 percent) for defense discretionary spending and $809 billion (+6 percent) for nondefense discretionary spending—the source for most scientific research programs. Notably, the plan proposes tax increases for wealthy individuals and large corporations that are expected to cut deficits by $3 trillion over the next decade.
In total, a record $210 billion would be directed to Federal research and development activities. The budget outline includes $16.5 billion for climate science and clean energy research and $23 billion for community climate resilience. It would provide almost $21 billion in discretionary spending for CHIPS and Science Act-authorized activities, including $1.2 billion, a 50 percent boost, for the new Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships at NSF and $300 million for its Regional Innovation Engines program to “galvanize use-inspired research, technology translation, and workforce development.”
Some key items related to science in the budget request include:
- The President requests $11.3 billion for NSF in FY 2024, a 15 percent increase compared to the total enacted budget of $9.9 billion for the agency in 2023, which included some supplemental funding. The White House, however, labels this as a 19 percent increase, comparing it to only NSF’s regular FY 2023 appropriations.
- The Department of Energy would receive $52 billion in FY 2024. Of this total, $8.8 billion (+8 percent) is requested for the DOE Office of Science.
- The request includes $6.8 billion for NOAA, $451 million more than the FY 2023 enacted level.
The Administration requests $27.2 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), an increase of 7 percent over FY 2023. NASA’s earth science division would grow by nearly 14 percent to $2.5 billion.
- The National Institutes of Health would get $48.6 billion in FY 2024, a small increase of less than 2 percent compared to FY 2023. Most of this increase would go to the National Cancer Institute.
- Budget for the new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) would grow from $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion to support high-risk, high-reward biomedical research.
- The Department of the Interior would see its budget grow by 12 percent to $18.9 billion. USGS is slated to receive $1.8 billion, an increase of 19 percent. This includes $395 million for Ecosystems Mission Area, an increase of $88 million or 29 percent relative to FY 2023. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would receive $2.1 billion in discretionary spending, an increase of 18 percent. The National Park Service would be funded at $3.8 billion, an increase of 8 percent compared to FY 2023. The Bureau of Land Management would receive a boost of 9 percent to $1.7 billion.
- EPA’s budget would get a significant bump of 19 percent to $12 billion in FY 2024.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture would receive a discretionary budget of $30.1 billion, a 14 percent increase relative to FY 2023. This includes a total of more than $4 billion (+$299 million) for agricultural research, education, and outreach. The Agricultural Research Service would be funded at nearly $2 billion (+5 percent) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture would receive $1.9 billion (+9 percent), of which $550 million (+21 percent) would be directed to the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.
Detailed budget requests and priorities for each agency will be released in the coming weeks. The President’s budget request serves as a starting point for congressional debate on FY 2024 appropriations, with the final decisions about spending levels resting with lawmakers. With Republican lawmakers calling for reduced government spending to tackle the rising debt and control of Congress divided between the two parties, the likelihood of the proposed funding increases for science getting funded remains uncertain.
Stay current on the latest science policy news. Subscribe to our bi-weekly AIBS Public Policy Report.