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Update as of 18 December at 3:00 P.M. EST:

Today, the U.S. Senate passed a compromise two-year budget plan that restores some of the drastic cuts to the federal budget imposed by the across-the-board spending reductions known as the sequester. This plan was crafted in a bipartisan manner by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), and has already been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives – which means after today’s action, it’s ready to go to President Obama for his signature.

This budget bill sets overall spending limits for the government for the next two years – but the details, including how much of the restored funding will benefit scientific research and development, must still be worked out by the congressional appropriations committees. As it is, federal science funding in fiscal year 2013 declined by $9.6 billion – or about 7 percent – over the previous year. It is crucial that congressional appropriators add back as much of that money as possible – but to do that, they will have to understand the important role science plays in fueling American prosperity.

The committees have until January 15, 2014 to come up with a plan for fiscal year 2014 or the government will partially shut down again. Now and early January is an critical time for the committees’ leaders – Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Representatives Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) – to hear from scientists.

Going forward, we expect the President to issue a proposed budget for fiscal year 2015 early in the new year, and the process will begin again. To stay in touch with all the latest developments and find out how you can help make a difference, please sign up to receive our Science Policy Alerts and learn about other opportunities to have your voice heard at Science is Essential.

Read AGU’s press release (updated 19 December).

Update as of 26 November at 12:00 P.M. EST:

Signs are getting a bit better that the committee tasked with negotiating a federal budget deal, chaired by Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), could reach a deal that would pave the way for spending bills and help to stave off another federal government partial shutdown.

Such a deal would likely replace the draconian budget cuts passed last year known as the “sequester” with other funding cuts combined with revenue increases such as new wireless spectrum sale fees.

The big issue for the geoscience community is whether the funding cuts will impair federal spending on science.

Murray and Ryan are now racing to see whether they can reach agreement by the first week of December.

If you care about federal spending on science, this is an excellent time to weigh in with your member of Congress – particularly if your member of Congress is on the federal budget negotiating committee.  Here’s the list:

House Republicans: 
Rep. Paul Ryan (Wisc.)
Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.)
Rep. Tom Price (Ga.)
Rep. Diane Black (Tenn.)

House Democrats:
Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.)
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.)
Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y.)

Senate Republicans:
Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.)
Sen. Charles Grassley (Iowa)
Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.)
Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.)
Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio)
Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.)
Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.)
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.)
Sen. Roger Wicker (Miss.)

From Senate Democratic Caucus: 
Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.)
Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.)
Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.)
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.)
Sen. Mark Warner (Va.)
Sen. Jeff Merkley (Ore.)
Sen. Chris Coons (Del.)
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.)
Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.)
Sen. Angus King (Maine)