After rancorous floor debate and dozens of amendments, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5672, the $60 billion Science-State-Justice-Commerce FY 2007 spending bill on 29 June 2006. In the midst of tight caps on discretionary spending that have forced legislators to make deep cuts in many programs, the National Science Foundation (NSF) was saved from the chopping block when the chamber approved the full $6 billion budget request. The funding is a key element in the President's American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI).
Of the $6 billion total budget, the NSF Research and Related Activities account would receive $4.66 billion, $334.5 million above FY 2006. According to the House Report that accompanies H.R. 5672, "the Committee strongly supports the increased funding for basic scientific research proposed in the President's American Competitiveness Initiative...The increase provided for fiscal year 2007 is intended as the first year of a ten-year doubling of the Federal investment in innovation-enabling research supporting high-leverage fields of physical science and engineering."
Education programs at NSF fared well under the bill, receiving a budget of $832.4 million, $16.2 million above the request and $35.74 million above FY 2006. An amendment approved during the subcommittee markup provided this funding boost after a $3 million reduction in the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) account, funded at $237 million ($46.37 million above FY 2006), and a $13.2 million reduction in the Salaries and Expenses account. Report language suggests that support for the ACI should include an increase in funding for education programs at NSF.
These boosts in science funding were tempered by cuts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The House approved a $3.4 billion FY 2007 budget for NOAA, $289 million below the President's request. This total does not include possible NOAA budget reductions through offsets from House floor amendments.
The Senate Appropriations Committee will now take up H.R. 5672, but beltway insiders suspect Senate and conference committee action on the bill could be delayed until after the November mid-term elections.
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