In mid-January, Congress overwhelmingly approved a $1.012 trillion spending plan to fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2014, which runs through 30 September 2014. The plan (HR 3547) will increase funding by $44 billion above the levels established by a 2011 budget deal.
"This agreement will not be viewed as perfect by everyone. It required difficult choices, and nobody got everything they wanted," said Senator Barbara Mikulski, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "But this agreement is what we need now to move the country forward by funding the critical missions of our government and investing in America's greatest assets -- our people, our infrastructure, and the research and discoveries that will create jobs today and in the future. And at the same time, the agreement ensures the American people get value for their taxpayer dollars by ending dated, duplicative, and dysfunctional programs."
The law, also called an omnibus, is a package of 12 appropriations bills that collectively fund the entire federal government. This is the first time since 2011 that all 12 bills were enacted; in recent years several sectors of the government have operated under continuing resolutions that maintain the previous year's budget.
"The Omnibus will fulfill the basic duty of Congress; it provides funding for every aspect of the federal government, from our national defense, to our transportation systems, to the education of our kids," said Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee. "The bill reflects careful decisions to realign the nation's funding priorities and target precious tax dollars to important programs where they are needed the most. At the same time, the legislation will continue the downward trend in federal spending to put our nation on a sustainable fiscal path."
Science agencies did well relative to the FY 2013 post-sequestration levels. Increased funding was provided for:
- National Science Foundation: $7.2 billion (+4.2 percent)
- The increase will provide 780 more competitive grants in FY 2014.
- National Institutes of Health: $29.9 billion (+3.5 percent)
- NIH could offer funding for 385 additional research grants.
- Department of Energy Office of Science: $5.1 billion (+9.7 percent)
- This funding level includes $610 million for biological and environmental research.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: $5.3 billion (+10.7 percent)
- Agricultural Research Service, the intramural research program for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): $1.1 billion (+10.2 percent)
- Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, USDA's extramural competitive grants program: $316.4 million (+14.5 percent)
- Environmental Protection Agency, Science and Technology: $759.2 million (+1.9 percent)
- U.S. Geological Survey: $1.0 billion (+2.0 percent)
- This includes $152.8 million for the Ecosystems Activity.
The plan passed with the support of 72 Senators, including all Democrats, both Independents, and 17 Republicans. In the House of Representatives, 367 lawmakers voted in favor of the bill and 67 voted against. All but three of the 'nay' votes came from Republicans. President Obama signed the bill into law on 17 January 2014.
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