Although slow, Congress has been making steady progress on appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2010. In the last two weeks, three funding bills have been enacted, bringing the total number of enacted bills to five. Increases to science funding were included in two of the recently passed appropriations bills: the Interior and Environment, and Energy and Water appropriations acts. Additionally, a Continuing Resolution, which will keep the government funded through 18 December, was included in the Interior bill.
The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (HR 2996), enacted on 30 October 2009, will increase funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by 35 percent over FY 2009 and will increase funding for the United States Geological Survey (USGS) by $68 million, putting the agency above the level requested by the President. The Biological Resources Discipline within USGS will receive $205 million, with much of the approximately $20 million increase going toward climate change research, Arctic ecosystem research, and research partnerships at Cooperative Research Units. Science at EPA will receive a $56 million increase from last year’s level, with $248 million for human health and environmental research and a 13 percent increase for research fellowships. The Interior and Environment bill also includes more than $400 million for climate change science and adaptation, including $15 million for wildlife climate adaptation science.
The Energy, Water Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (HR 3183) was enacted on 28 October 2009. The $33.5 billion bill includes $4.9 billion for the Department of Energy Office of Science, a $131 million increase above FY 2009, but $38 million less than the President’s request. Of these funds, $604 million will be directed for biological and environmental research, a $2.6 million increase above FY 2009.
After weeks of delay, the Senate has passed the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (HR 2847). The bill had been considered on the Senate floor in mid-October, but a vote to limit debate failed by 4 votes. On 5 November 2009, the Senate successfully passed this measure, allowing final passage of the $64.8 billion bill. The Senate version includes $6.9 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF), a 6.5 percent increase over FY 2009, but $19 million less than the House bill. The bill would provide $5.6 billion for research at NSF (a $435 million increase over FY 2009), $122 million for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (a $30 million decrease), and $858 million for the Education and Human Resources directorate (a $12.5 million increase). An amendment offered by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) that would have stripped funding for NSF-funded political science research was soundly defeated by a vote of 36-62. The Senate measure would fund the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at $4.77 billion, a 9 percent increase over FY 2009 and $170 million more than the House bill. Differences between the House and Senate versions must be resolved.
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