The House of Representatives passed a spending plan in mid-April that would steeply cut funding for science and environmental programs. The budget proposal, sponsored by Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would balance the federal budget by 2024, largely by reducing spending by $5.1 trillion over the next decade.

The budget resolution passed the House with the support of all but 12 Republicans. No Democrats voted for the measure. Prior to passage, there had been concern that some conservatives would oppose the plan because it allowed for a modest increase in discretionary spending in fiscal year 2015. The Ryan plan outlines total funding that is in line with the bipartisan budget deal reached in December 2013.

Although the budget resolution does not specify funding for individual agencies, the measure does outline spending in broad categories. For science, the House budget would provide $1.7 billion less than President Obama’s request. This budget category includes the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Department of Energy Office of Science.

The Ryan plan would emphasize basic research while shifting funding away from applied research. The plan claims to provide “stable funding for NSF” for research and education. The plan also calls for paring back spending for biological and environmental research within the Department of Energy due to the potential to “crowd out private investment.”

In terms of natural resources and environment: “The budget resolution recognizes the importance of … water-resources, conservation, environmental, land-management, and recreational programs—but bigger government has not led to better government, and the increase in spending in this function has only invited mismanagement and duplication.” Approximately $2.5 billion would be cut from the current budget authority for the Department of the Interior, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and other environmental programs. The plan also calls for climate change activities to be streamlined and reduced funding for international climate activities.

The budget resolution (H.Con.Res. 96) is dead on arrival in the Senate, as the upper chamber plans to follow the spending caps set in the recent budget deal in lieu of formulating a budget resolution for 2015.

 


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