On 26 December 2007, President Bush signed the $555 billion omnibus appropriations bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 (H.R. 2674). The legislation was finally pushed through both chambers of Congress in the days prior to Christmas. Prior to passage of this omnibus measure, the only appropriations legislation to become law was the FY 2008 Appropriations for the Department of Defense (H.R. 3222), which was signed by the President on 13 November. The omnibus includes funding for all remaining federal agencies and programs as well as billions for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ultimately, appropriated funding for various federal research and development agencies was below the levels requested last February. The cuts were a result of Congress seeking to fund the breadth of federal programs and agencies while remaining below budget limits imposed by the White House.

Some specific details for selected science agencies include:

NSF: The FY 2008 omnibus provides NSF with $6.065 billion, $364 million less than the President requested and $434 million and $488 million less than the House and Senate proposed, respectively. This translates to just a 1.1 percent overall increase in funding for the Research and Related Activities accounts, from $4.766 billion dollars in FY 2007 to $4.821 billion dollars for FY 2008. Of significant concern to biologists, is an estimated 2.9 percent cut from FY 2007 for the Biological Sciences directorate. Additionally, the omnibus calls for the return of $33 million that NSF was appropriated in FY 2007, but did not spend.

NIH: The National Institutes of Health will receive $29.456 billion in the FY 2008 appropriations, approximately $776 million less than the amount President Bush vetoed in an earlier appropriation bill in November and just 1.1 percent more than NIH received in FY 2007. The $275 million increase over FY 2007 is largely accounted for by a transfer to the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS and increased funding for the NIH Common Fund. Thus, most institutes at NIH will remain flat-funded in FY 2008. Additionally, the omnibus appropriations bill included language requiring all investigators funded by NIH to submit peer-reviewed manuscripts accepted for publication to NIH’s PubMed Central for public access “no later than 12 months after the official date of publication.”

USDA: With the addition of $264 million in earmarks, the research and development appropriation for the US Department of Agriculture in FY 2008 will increase 2 percent from FY 2007 to $2.3 billion, $292 million more than the President’s budget request. In terms of extramural funding programs, total funding for research and development through the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) will remain flat-funded in FY 2008 at $654 million. This is also the case for the competitive grants program, the National Research Initiative (NRI), administered by CSREES. NRI will remain flat-funded in FY 2008 at $191 million, well below the $257 million presidential request. Research and development within the USDA’s intramural research arm, the Agricultural Research Service, will increase 3.2 percent over FY 2007 to $1.2 billion. This includes $47 million for earmarked construction projects in the Buildings and Facilities account. In FY 2008, the research and development budget for the US Forest Service will increase by $15 million, or 4.7 percent, to $337 million.

NOAA: Although the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration received a 7.6 percent increase in research and development, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) recently released a statement indicating that the omnibus bill will reduce funding to a number of vital programs.

EPA: Research and development for the Environmental Protection Agency in FY 2008 is down 3.2 percent ($18 million) from 2007, its lowest level in over two decades. Efforts to increase research and development in FY 2008 for EPA were discarded by Congress, lost in negotiations in the final appropriations bill. Congress did, however, direct $3 million in the omnibus bill for EPA to “restore service at the EPA’s technical and research libraries.”

USGS: Within the Department of Interior, the omnibus bill provides $1.022 billion for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), lower than the $1.033 billion for USGS approved by the House and slightly more than the $1.010 billion approved by the Senate. Of note, the various biological science programs within the Biological Resources Discipline (BRD) will receive nearly $180 million, with the bulk of this funding allocated to biological research and monitoring ($141.2 million after a mandated rescission), a small increase from the FY 2007 level. Within BRD, contaminant biology will receive $2 million, the National Biological Information Infrastructure will receive $6.85 million, and cooperative research units will receive $16.1 million.

 


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