More than halfway through the fiscal year (FY), federal lawmakers have finally finished their work on FY 2011 appropriations. After seven continuing resolutions and a near government shutdown, the deal to fund the federal government through the end of September was signed into law by President Obama on 15 April. The final legislation received bipartisan support in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The spending package cuts $39.9 billion relative to FY 2010 — less than the $61 billion House Republicans sought to cut. About $12 billion of the reductions were previously enacted in recent months. Non-defense agencies and programs were cut across the board by 0.2 percent from FY 2010 levels. Some agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Science Foundation, were targeted for additional reductions. Full details of the spending plan are not yet available, as agencies are still determining the impacts to their budgets.

Although the final agreement did not include any restrictions on EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, Republican lawmakers were successful in retaining other policy riders. The law includes provisions that remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves, prohibit funding from being used for the establishment of a climate service at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and bar funds for the Department of the Interior’s “wild lands” policy to protect roadless areas. Additionally, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and the Office of Science and Technology Policy will not be allowed to facilitate joint scientific efforts between the governments of the United States and China for the remainder of FY 2011. Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over NASA, has expressed hope that the ban may eventually be made permanent.

 


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