The House of Representatives passed the first of twelve appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2010 on 18 June 2009. The Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Activities Appropriations bill (HR 2847) provides funding for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, as well as the National Science Foundation (NSF). Crosscutting the various agencies in the $64.4 billion package, the House has provided $30.6 billion for science, technology, and innovation (an increase of $1 billion over FY 2009), $1 billion for science education ($36 million increase), and over $2 billion for climate change research ($64.6 million increase), according to congressional documents. Despite days of debate on the House floor, consideration of over thirty amendments, and protests over procedure from House Republicans, the funding levels are largely unchanged from the version of the bill crafted by the House Appropriations Committee.

The House bill would provide NSF with $6.937 billion in FY 2010. This funding is roughly 7 percent above the FY 2009 level, but $108.5 million below the President’s request for FY 2010. HR 2847 would provide $5.642 billion for research ($459.0 million increase over FY 2009), $114.3 million for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction [MREFC ($37.7 million decrease)], and $862.9 million for the Education and Human Resources directorate ($17.6 million increase).

The President’s FY 2010 budget request for NSF’s Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO) included an 11.8 percent increase for BIO, just above the 10.6 percent average increase for all Research and Related Activities programs. This percentage may slide down if the numbers approved by the House are also adopted by the Senate. However, as outlined in the President’s budget request, the five BIO divisions would be funded accordingly:

1) Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) - $128.8 million, a 6.2 percent increase 2) Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) - $221.8 million, a 4.8 percent increase 3) Environmental Biology (EB) - $133.9 million, a 11.2 percent increase 4) Biological Infrastructure (BI) - $130.1 million, a 11.4 percent increase 5) Emerging Frontiers (EF) - $118.27 million, a 37.9 percent increase

Of interest to organismal and biodiversity scientists, BIO would invest an additional $20 million in Research Resources and Centers. This program would continue efforts to digitize and network specimen-based research collections. These collections provide proper validation of species and ancillary data such as DNA samples and environment/habitat information. These data provide the baseline for our knowledge of life on Earth. Filling these gaps is required for understanding the biodiversity of the planet, both in space and time, and the history of climate change.

The House spending plan for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would add 5 percent to the President’s budget request. As provided by the House, NOAA’s budget would grow by roughly $129 million to a total of $4.6 billion. Although much of the funding increase would be directed to the agency’s satellite acquisitions, some funding would be made available for the establishment of a new National Climate Service.

The Senate has yet to act on its version of the FY 2010 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations. Ultimately, HR 2847 will have to be reconciled with a Senate bill prior to a measure being sent to President Obama.

The House Appropriations Committee has passed appropriations bills for the Departments of Interior (DOI) and Agriculture (USDA). The Interior and Environment appropriations bill would fund the DOI at $10.97 billion in FY 2010, a 9 percent increase over FY 2009. This is a rare increase for DOI, which has been the only Department in recent years to experience consistent budget cuts. The US Geological Survey (USGS), a bureau of DOI, would receive $1.1 billion in FY 2010, an increase of $62 million over FY 2009. The Biological Resources Discipline within USGS would receive $202.5 million, with much of the $17.2 million increase going towards climate change research, Arctic ecosystem research, and the Cooperative Research Units. Roughly $15 million would be directed to the National Global Warming and Wildlife Science Center for wildlife adaptation to climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), also funded through the Interior and Environment appropriations legislation, would receive $10.46 billion (27 percent increase from FY 2009), of which $17 million is for the continuing development of a greenhouse gas registry.

USDA is funded through a separate appropriations subcommittee. The appropriations plan providing funding for USDA has moved through committee. As drafted, the measure would provide $2.4 billion for agricultural research at the USDA, a $34 million increase over FY 2009.

Rumors and reports indicate that the Interior and Environment as well as the Agriculture appropriations may be considered by the full House of Representatives in June and July.


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