After a slow start, the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee has begun its consideration of fiscal year (FY) 2012 appropriations. The Committee set an ambitious agenda for crafting the 12 bills that would collectively fund the federal government in the upcoming fiscal year, which starts on 1 October 2011. The Committee plans to consider at least 9 of the bills on the House floor before the start of the Congressional recess in August. As of today, the House has passed one appropriations bill.

Among the bills that the Appropriations Committee has considered to date are legislation to fund the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Energy (DOE). The Committee passed a bill on 31 May that would cut funding for the USDA in FY 2012. That legislation would cut the budget for the Agricultural Research Service, the USDA’s in-house research division, by nearly $140 million relative to FY 2011. Funding for competitive, extramural research would decrease by 15 percent to $225 million, well below the $325 million requested by the Obama Administration. The Committee recommended a budget of $4.8 billion (-$42.7 million) for the Department of Energy Office of Science. It is not yet clear what the funding levels will be for the biological and environmental research divisions at DOE.

Also of note is a policy rider included in the House-passed version of the FY 2012 appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The House voted 242 to 180 to adopt an amendment offered by Representative John Carter (R-TX) that would bar DHS from participating in the Interagency Task Force on Climate Change Adaptation. The Task Force, which is comprised of representatives from the White House, 12 departments, and 5 independent agencies, is tasked with developing recommendations for preparing the United States for the impacts of climate change. In his statement supporting the amendment, Carter said that DHS should focus its limited resources on securing the U.S.-Mexico border, “not wasting time duplicating the work of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.”

The House Appropriations Committee is expected to take up consideration of funding bills for the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of the Interior in early July. The Senate has yet to publicly release drafts of any FY 2012 appropriation bills.


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