Federal funding

8 September 2016

Congress returned to session on 6 September with the task of funding the government for fiscal year 2017 (FY17), and only 17 legislative days until the October recess to pass all 12 spending bills in order to prevent a government shutdown.

For the first time in years, both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees passed all 12 spending bills— however, only a handful of these have passed the full House or Senate. Congress will likely pass a short term continuing resolution (CR) to keep current funding levels going until after the election.

Congress may also pass a long term CR, which would lock in FY16 funding levels for all of FY17. Agencies would be unable to award new grants, start new missions, or hire new employees. For more information, see AGU’s letter to House and Senate Appropriators. 

For in-depth coverage on this year’s funding for our nation’s science agencies, check out our four-part series: Funding Season is Open on The Bridge.


17 June 2016

On Wednesday, 15 June, the full House Appropriations Committee considered the Interior and Environment spending bill. This bill includes funding for USGS, the EPA, and other environmental agencies. USGS received about a 2% increase in funding, while the EPA funding was cut by nearly 2%.

On the following day, Thursday, 16 June, the full Senate Appropriations Committee considered its version of the bill. USGS received a small increase of 0.61% in the bill, while the EPA received a 0.38% cut.

For more information about the House and Senate I&E appropriations bills, visit our The Bridge blog, Funding Season is Open: Part 4. 

FY17 Appropriations by Agency

Full FY17 Appropriations Chart

24 May 2016

On Tuesday, 24 May the full House Appropriations Committee considered the Commerce, Justice, Science spending bill.  The bill includes funding for NASA, NOAA, and the National Science Foundation (NSF).  NASA and NSF receive nominal increases in the bill, while NOAA sees a noticeable 3.2% cut from fiscal year 2016.

For more information about the House CJS appropriations bill and the federal science funding landscape, visit our The Bridge blog, Funding Season is Open: Parts 1, 2, & 3.

On the same day, the House Interior and Environment Appropriations subcommittee released their spending bill, which includes funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The EPA received an almost 2% cut while overall USGS received a 1.70% increase over fiscal year 2016. The Senate has not yet acted on the Interior and Environment spending bill.

Budget ChartFull FY2017 Appropriations Chart

Appropriators in both chambers are working hard to pass as many spending bills as possible before 15 July, when both chambers will break for conventions and August recess. The Senate has succeeded in passing three of the twelve appropriations bills, while the House has passed only one bill.  There’s still time to weigh in with your legislators about the need for increased investments in Earth and space sciences. Take action now!

20 May 2016:

On 18 May, the House Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee introduced it’s spending bill, which provided topline funding numbers and the funding level for some specific programs. The bill includes funding for NASA, NOAA, and the National Science Foundation (NSF). As the chart below demonstrates, there are many differences in spending priorities between the Senate and House versions of the CJS bill, which will have to be worked out later between the two chambers.

Next Tuesday, 24 May, the full House Appropriations Committee will consider and vote on the CJS spending bill.

There’s still time to weigh in with your legislator and share with them the value of Earth and space programs for science, your community, and the nation. Contact your legislator today to encourage them to support strong funding for the Earth and space sciences.

Fed Budget update

5 May 2016:

On 14 April, the Senate Appropriations Committee finished work on the Energy and Water spending bill, which includes funding for the Department of Energy (DOE), including the Office of Science. Shortly after, the companion House Subcommittee followed suit and passed its own version.

The following week, on 21 April, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) spending bill – the bill that funds NASA, NOAA, and the National Science Foundation (NSF), among other agencies.  The House has yet to act on the CJS bill.

Both chambers have vowed to pass all 12 appropriations bills by July 15, in time for Representatives and Senators to attend the national conventions.  For more in-depth analysis, check out The Bridge.

Budget Table

11 February 2016:

On 9 February 2016, the President introduced his final budget request outlining his spending priorities for fiscal year 2017 (FY17). On its face the President’s budget would increase funding for all federal science agencies; however, the budget relies on mandatory funding to increase federal funding for science. This budget maneuver would require Congress to also adopt the tax increases and other cost-savings measures the President proposes in order to fund the mandatory research and development spending. As part of the FY16 appropriations negotiations, Congress set spending caps for FY17 discretionary spending. Due to these agreed-upon caps, and the difficulties of agreeing on budget issues that have plagued Congress of late, it is highly unlikely that Congress will attempt to increase mandatory spending, leaving the budget increases included as mandatory spending in the President’s budget essentially moot.

Read the 11 February AGU Science Policy Alert for details about the President’s FY17 budget request.

18 December 2015:

On Friday, 18 December 2015 Congress passed a $1.149 trillion omnibus spending bill that will fund the federal government for fiscal year 2016. The bill now goes to the President’s desk, where he is expected to sign the bill.

Overall, most federal science agencies saw increases in funding, in part due to The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which raised federal discretionary spending by 5.2% or $33 billion for fiscal year 2016.  The chart below outlines overall spending levels for the federal science agencies.

Funding for Agencies (in millions of dollars)

Program FY15 Enacted FY16 President’s Request FY16 Omnibus  

% change from FY15 to FY16 Omnibus

NSF Overall 7,344 7,724 7,463 + 1.62 %
NASA Overall 18,010 18,529 19, 285 + 7.08 %
NOAA Overall 5,441 5,983 5,766 + 5.97 %
USGS Overall 1,045 1,195 1,062 + 1.63 %
DOE Overall 27,402 29,924 29, 717 + 8.45 %
EPA Overall 8,139 8, 591 8,139 0.0 %

For more details about the omnibus, including science policy riders, check out our blog post Friend or Foe of Science? The FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations BillAdditionally, the negotiated spending bill did not contain harmful science policy provisions that de-prioritized the NSF’s Geosciences Directorate or provisions that hindered climate and environmental programs.

12 December 2015:

On Friday, 11 December 2015, the House and Senate passed a continuing resolution (CR) that would continue to fund the government through 16 December at current funding levels.  11 December was the deadline of the previous CR Congress passed to avert a government shutdown. 

Lawmakers need the extra time to negotiate remaining disagreements over the bills that will fund the government for the next fiscal year. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 passed in November has allowed Democrats and Republicans to agree to spending levels for government agencies and programs for fiscal year 2016, but controversial policy provisions, also known as riders, remain sticking points between the two parties. Lawmakers now have until next Wednesday to pass an omnibus spending bill that will combine all 12 appropriations bills and provide funding for the entire government. 

28 October 2015:

Late on Monday night, 26 October 2015, Congressional leaders and the White House agreed to a two-year budget deal, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The budget agreement will roll back spending caps put in place by sequestration for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.  The agreement raises federal discretionary spending by 5.2% or $33 billion for fiscal year 2016. Significantly, non-defense and defense programs saw equal increases in federal funding.  The budget agreement also raised the debt ceiling until March 2017 ensuring that the United States can continue to meet its financial obligations,  including social security, interest on the national debt, military salaries, and other payments.

The House is expected to vote on the deal today, 28 October 2015. The Senate is expected to begin considering the bill the next day.  If the deal is approved by Congress, appropriators will begin negotiating which programs and priorities will receive additional funding. Congress has until 11 December to pass all 12 appropriations bills to avoid a government shutdown.

As lawmakers begin reviewing their spending priorities, it’s imperative that AGU members tell their lawmakers why funding for science is important and how science will be advanced with an additional 5.2% in funding.  

Contact your legislator today

13 October 2015:

Late on 30 September, Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) to prevent a government shutdown. The CR funds the government until 11 December 2015 under the caps set by the Budget Control Act  of 2011 (BCA). Federal programs are funded at existing FY 2015 levels, but then a small across-the-board cut is applied to all programs at the FY 2016 level set by the BCA. 

Despite the 11 December deadline set by Congress, the Treasury Department recently announced that the US will reach its debt ceiling in early November. The debt ceiling is the limit set on the amount of money the US can borrow to meet its financial obligations; including social security, interest on the national debt, military salaries, and other payments.

The White House has already begun negotiations with Senate and House leaders to reach a larger budget agreement that will both fund the government for FY 2016 and resolve the debt ceiling.

Many in Congress are advocating for the budget caps to be raised for both defense and non-defense spending, which includes all science agencies. It’s imperative that AGU members tell their Members of Congress why funding for science is important and how science will be advanced if the caps are raised.

Contact Your Legislator Today

10 July 2015:

Yesterday, the Interior and Environment appropriations bill, which provides funding for the US Geological Survey and the Environmental Protection Agency, was unexpectedly pulled from the House floor due to controversial amendments. To date, the House has passed six appropriations bills. In the Senate, Democrats have announced their intent to filibuster any appropriations bill brought to the floor, unless the budget caps for federal spending are raised. Although ten appropriations bills have passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee, no bills have been brought to the floor. Both chambers of Congress need to pass and agree to twelve appropriations bills by September 30 to prevent a government shutdown.

Time constraints and the threat of a filibuster will most likely lead to Congress passing a Continuing Resolution (CR), in which federal funding for FY16 remains at FY15 levels, giving Congress more time to negotiate appropriations after the September 30 deadline. Until Congress reaches a final appropriations agreement federal funding for FY16 remains adjustable. It’s imperative that AGU members continue to voice their concerns about the low levels of funding for science. View current funding status (in millions of dollars) here.

16 February 2015:

On 2 February 2015 the President released his annual budget request outlining his fiscal priorities for fiscal year 2016 (FY16). This budget request would increase funding for many federal scientific research programs. The President’s budget request is just the first step in the process of setting FY16 funding, and the requests that the President sets may or may not be reflected in the budget numbers that Congress eventually passes. Read the 2 February AGU Science Policy Alert for details about the President’s FY16 budget request.

15 December 2014:

Congress passed a combination Continuing Resolution (CR) and Omnibus – dubbed a CRomnibus – late on 13 December. Once signed by the President, which will happen by 17 December when the current short-term CR ends, the bill will become law. All of the federal government will be funded through the end of FY15, except for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which is only funded through February, and is the CR portion of the CRomnibus – all of the other government agencies have entirely new appropriations bills for FY15. Overall funding levels are close to FY14 appropriations, and for full details see our blog post “FY15 Omnibus – A Close Shave” on The Bridge: Connecting Science and Policy.

22 September 2014:

Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) providing funding for the U.S. government at Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) levels through 11 December, 2014, well into the next fiscal year that begins on 1 October 2014. The CR was passed instead of regular appropriations bills because the House of Representatives and the Senate could not agree on spending levels. Congress has adjourned for recess through Election Day and are scheduled to return on 12 November 2014. They will have an estimated 14 days in session to agree on spending levels before the current CR expires.

FY15 Budget:

More information on the President’s FY15 budget request: Follow the links below to find out more about each individual agency. Numbers are reported in millions of dollars.


FY14 Enacted

FY15 President’s Request

% Change from FY14 Enacted

NSF Overall $7,171.92 $7,255.00 1.16%
NASA Overall $17,647 $17,460 -1.06%
NOAA Overall $5,322.5 $5,496.7 3.27%
USGS Overall $1,032.97 $1,074.02 3.97%
DOE Overall $27,224 $27,940 2.63%
EPA Overall $8,200.00 $7,890.00 -3.78%

Write to your legislators on this issue.