Despite a slow start to their work on fiscal year (FY) 2012 appropriations, the Senate may have found a path forward to fund some agencies of the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year, which started on 1 October. Last week, the Senate began consideration of a “minibus”—a bill that rolls three appropriations bills into one piece of legislation. The minibus would fund the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, and Transportation, as well as several independent agencies.

The bill would provide the National Science Foundation (NSF) with $6.698 billion, a 2.4 percent reduction from last year. Most of the reduction would come from the Research and Related Activities account, which provides funding for NSF’s various research directorates (e.g., Biological Sciences Directorate).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would receive $5.0 billion in FY 2012, $434.2 million more than FY 2011. Nearly all of the proposed increase would be directed towards the acquisition of the Joint Polar Satellite System. NOAA’s operations, research, and facilities would receive $48.2 million less than last year if the bill were enacted.

Research programs at the Department of Agriculture would receive $2.3 billion, a $39 million reduction. The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative — a competitive extramural research grants program — would receive $266 million, a $1.5 million increase. This is $36.5 million more than the House approved for the program.

The Senate debated and voted upon more than a dozen amendments to the minibus (HR 2112), before voting to end debate on the measure. The chamber is expected to pass the bill once they return from their weeklong recess.

 


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