The National Science Foundation (NSF) could see a $111 million increase next year if legislation approved by the House of Representatives panel with jurisdiction over funding for the agency is enacted. The proposed increase is 1.6 percent more than the agency received this year after accounting for budget sequestration, but is less than President Obama requested for NSF. The proposed increase is especially notable given the lower overall funding allocations set by the House for fiscal year 2014. If the House funding levels were to be enacted, they would not be subject to an across the board cut due to sequestration because the total spending caps comply with federal law.

NSF’s Research and Related Activities account would be the primary beneficiary of the proposed funding increase. This budget account includes the Biological Sciences Directorate. Overall research funding would increase by $132.5 million to $5.7 billion. Funding for education would be cut by one percent. Funding for the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account would decline by seven percent.

The legislation would also set FY 2014 funding levels for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The agency would receive $89 million less than the 2013 enacted funding level of $5 billion. The agency’s operations and research account would be targeted for cuts, whereas funding for procurement and construction of satellites and other facilities would be level funded. The proposed funding is about a half a billion dollars short of what President Obama requested for NOAA.

Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), chairman of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, warned that NOAA might have more difficulty avoiding staff furloughs next year. “The sources from which the funds were reprogrammed [this year] will not be available in 2014,” said Wolf. “A grand bargain of some type will be necessary to solve the problem.”

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) echoed the difficulties presented by the spending levels adopted by the House: “All of the subcommittees have been given scant numbers with which to deal. It is a little like skating on ice with thin patches; you have to keep your eyes on the horizon and not look down.”

The draft bill is awaiting action by the full House Appropriations Committee. The Senate is expected to reveal their proposal for NSF and NOAA funding this week.

 


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